Jury pool to report for murder trial

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

It will be a complicated process involving countless hours and countless questions.

Jury selection in the Roger Marshall murder trial begins Monday. Opening arguments and the actual start of the trial has been delayed until May 9 to allow more time to choose jurors and for Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton to rule on additional motions filed in the case, some of which were submitted late last week.

Marshall, 57, will stand trial on12 counts of aggravated arson as well as three counts of murder. He is accused of setting a fire at the Lyle Motel on South Third Street August 2, killing James M. Reed, Lolaetta Corbin and John Meyer. Because other people were in the motel at the time of the fire, the additional arson counts were applicable. Marshall has pleaded not guilty.

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While every murder trial is a life-and-death matter, the Marshall trial is Lawrence County's first capital case in more than six years. If convicted, Marshall could be sentenced to death. Jurors will be chosen after literally weeks of inquiry about their opinions, their associations and what they have read, heard and seen.

"We're starting off with 150 (jurors)," Walton said. "When they report, they will report in units of 50 at three different times on Monday. When they report, they will be given an additional jury questionnaire to fill out and turn back in. When they do, they will be told when to return. We won't have them all return at the same time. If we did we would have them stacked up in the hallways waiting for days to be called in."

Jurors will return May 2.

Walton said two concerns court officials will first broach with prospective jurors are pretrial publicity and their thoughts on the death penalty. "There are no right or wrong answers here," Walton said. "We just need to know."

Walton said he expects opening arguments to commence and the state to begin presenting its case May 9 or shortly thereafter.

"Both sides agreed to one week for the state's case," Walton said.

and about a day- and-a-half to two days for the defense."

That would put closing arguments on or about May 18.

"All cases are different," Walton said. "They're similar but in some respects different and death penalty cases are quite different. There are more hoops you have to jump through."

The last capital case in Lawrence County was the Leon Aliff trial in 1999. Aliff was found guilty of murdering his ex-wife, Linda Aliff. He was sentenced to death but died of cancer in prison two years later.