Jury selection under way in murder trial

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 9, 2003

Jury selection was scheduled to begin today in Adams County inthe capital murder trial of a Lincoln County man charged in theJune 18, 2002, killing of Marvin Durr.

Once chosen, the jury will be brought to Lincoln County for thetrial of Cearic A. Barnes, 19, of 830 Beauregard St. Courtofficials hope to have a jury selected by the end of the day.

Durr’s body was found inside his burned car on South WashingtonStreet outside the city limits last June 18. Barnes is facingcapital murder and arson charges in connection with the case.

A co-defendant, Jerrard T. Cook, 19, of 2123 Madison Road,pleaded guilty to capital murder in November. Cook, believed tohave been the gun man in the shooting, is among witnesses expectedto testify in Barnes’ trial.

After a defense motion for change of venue due to pre-trialpublicity was granted, the trial was originally scheduled to beheld in Natchez this week. However, those plans changed lastweek.

“It just makes sense to try the case here,” said DistrictAttorney Danny Smith.

Smith cited travel and other cost savings by having the trial inLincoln County instead of Adams County. Also, he said, the statehas filed a motion to allow the jury to view the crime scene.

Court officials expect the formal trial will likely startTuesday. They anticipate it lasting three or four days.

“Based on past experience, I expect jury selection will consumeall of Monday,” Smith said.

Barnes was initially indicted on a capital murder charge inAugust and was later indicted on an arson charge. Smith said theindictments had been consolidated.

“They’ll be tried at the same time,” Smith said.

Smith said he is seeking death penalty against Barnes. He didnot discuss reasons, citing code of conduct rules that prohibitdiscussion of evidence, testimony and other matters.

If Barnes is found guilty, the death sentence would have to beimposed by the jury in a second trial phase.

“That will be a jury decision,” Smith said.

If that is not given, the sentence is life without parole. Thearson charge carries a three-year sentence.

Investigators have said Cook and Barnes stopped Durr’s vehicleduring a plan to steal it and take it to McComb to commit a robberythere. Durr, the son of the Rev. and Mrs. Jerry Durr, and Barneswere cousins.

Defense attorney Bill Barnett referred to another version ofevents that the defense wants the jury to hear.

“We have our own theory of the case and will try to put that infront of the jury,” Barnett said.

Barnett did not elaborate on the defense’s case.

“We believe when it’s all over, the jury will return a fairverdict,” Barnett said.