LUMBERTON — Jury selection for the trial of the man charged with the 2012 shooting death of a Lumberton police officer began Monday.
Marques Brown, 33, is accused of killing Officer Jeremiah Goodson Jr., who was off-duty and trying to arrest Brown when he was shot and killed in North Lumberton, not far from the Exit 22 overpass that now is named in his honor.
Brown is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Goodson, who was fatally shot on July 17, 2012, at a Shell gasoline station on Fayetteville Road. He was attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Brown for two counts of failure to appear in court, one count of possession of firearm by a felon, and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.
The death penalty is not an option in this trial. Brown was declared intellectually deficient for a capital case during a pre-trial hearing in January
Court-appointed defense attorneys Lisa Miles, of Durham, and Junius B. Lee, of Whiteville, stood Monday beside Brown, who was dressed in a button-down shirt and dress slacks rather than standard-issued prison attire.
Superior Court Judge Robert Floyd addressed the media before jury selection began about 10:30 a.m. Because of the high-profile nature of the case, no video cameras or recording devices will be allowed during the trial, the judge said. Still photos will be allowed later on, he said.
Before jury selection began, Floyd instructed Brown to stand and asked him if he had spoken with his attorneys about what he will admit to the jury during the trial.
“You are a convicted felon and that you fired the shot that killed Jeremiah Goodson,” Floyd said.
Brown responded yes, and then confirmed to the judge he had no questions on what he admitted to the court.
The pews behind the prosecution were filled with several ranking Lumberton police officers, including Police Chief Mike McNeill. Goodson’s wife, brother and father were among family and friends present in courtroom 2A.
Goodson’s father, Jerry, said he is having a hard time now that the trial has begun.
“It is terrible what happened. They are bringing everything back up, opening up old wounds,” he said. “He took a big life away from us. He was a good boy. He was my big boy.”
Brown’s mother, Larhonda, said she knows it must be difficult for the Goodson family.
“I’ve been praying for the family. They lost their loved one,” she said. “If they believe it or not, I hate what happened, I really do.”
Larhonda said she is relieved her son is not facing a possible death sentence, but it doesn’t make it easier for her.
“I was happy that the death penalty is off the table. I hate seeing my child like that. But what can I do?” she said. “I am hoping for self-defense. I am going with what he (Brown) told me last week, he (Brown) said it was a messed up situation.”
Jerry Goodson said he does not feel anger toward Brown. Brown’s been forgiven, he said.
“I don’t want nobody to die. I want him to stay there (in jail) and think about it, let him hurt,” Goodson’s father said.
Jerry Goodson is hoping for a speedy trial.
“I hope it doesn’t linger,” he said. “I want it to be over.”
Brown’s two sisters also were present during the first day of jury selection.
Judge Floyd went over a tentative trial schedule. Prospective jurors were told proceedings will start about 9:30 a.m., lunch will be at 1 p.m. and there will be three breaks in between, but if a break was needed raising their hand would be sufficient to indicate a break.
The judge introduced Brown to potential jurors. Soon afterward, 12 prospective jurors were called to the jury box and questioned.
“As long as you follow the rules you have nothing to worry about. I suggest you take a breath and relax,” Floyd said.
Potential jurors were asked to be fair and impartial.
Two jurors were excused as a result of bias either for or against the defendant or the prosecution. One stated he’s known the Goodson and Brown families for about 12 years.
Six weeks have been set aside for the trial. Jury selection is expected to continue through this week.
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