Jury set to hear arguments in parish triple-murder case
Published 12:38 am Tuesday, April 15, 2008
VIDALIA — The triple-murder trial for the Ferriday teen accused of killing his parents and best friend begins at 9 a.m. today in the Seventh District Judicial Court.
Jury selection for the case of State of Louisiana v. Conner Lane Wood began at 9 a.m. Monday, and at the end of the day — almost 4 p.m. — the jury was composed of three black females, one black male, four white females and four white males.
Standing before the panel shortly before selection was complete, Assistant District Attorney Brad Burget admonished jurors to be fair.
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“Make me do my job,” Burget said. “If I don’t present enough evidence, find him (Wood) not guilty. If I do present enough evidence to remove all reasonable doubt, then find him guilty.”
The job of jurors is of utmost importance in the justice system, Burget said.
“He (Wood) deserves a fair trial, the state of Louisiana deserves a fair trial, and we can’t do that without jurors,” Burget said.
Once the jury was selected, Judge Leo Boothe instructed them not to talk to anyone about the matter, watch television news or read a newspaper.
“I could sequester all of you in a hotel, but I’m not going to do that,” Boothe said. “If your husband or wife comes up to you and asks you about it, say, ‘Honey, I will tell you about it later.’”
Boothe also ordered the jurors to report it to the court if anyone tries to contact them about the trial.
Wood, 16, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder in relation to the March 14, 2007, deaths of his parents John and Geraldine Wood, and Matthew Whittington, who was 16 years old at the time of his death.
Wood was 15 at the time of the murders.
Originally indicted on three counts of first-degree murder, Wood pleaded “not guilty,” changed his plea to “not guilty by reason of insanity” and, once a sanity commission found him competent to stand trial, pleaded “not guilty” again.
In late March the District Attorney’s office amended the charges against Wood to second-degree murder, to which he also pleaded “not guilty.”