published Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Chattanooga: Jury selection continues in murder trial; opening statements expected today

Jury selection is expected to continue in the trial of Jerrico “RiRi” Hawthorne. Hawthorne faces charges in the slaying of 23-year-old James Williams Jr.

Williams was shot 14 times on July 27, 2011, at a residence at 2305 E. 17th St.

Hawthorne is accused of taking money from Williams before shooting him. Hawthorne was reportedly waiting behind the door of a residence when Williams entered.

Questions for jurors ranged from attorneys asking about their ability to judge people to if they watch CSI on television or if they have ever been the victim of a crime.

Amanda Dunn, a defense attorney who is representing Hawthorne, said an expert will testify about eye witness observation and line ups conducted by investigators.

Dunn asked if jurors believe that Hawthorne should testify during his trial.

“I would. I would like to hear his side of the story,” said Juror No. 9.

Dunn explained, “The constitution is devised to protect each of us as citizens. One of those protections given is, you do not have to testify. Jurors are not allowed to hold it against Mr. Hawthorne if he chooses not to testify.”

When asked how it might impact the jurors’ ability to judge, Juror No. 9, said, “I would prefer to hear it, but if he chooses not to, that’s his right.”

The jury pool included a total of 60 potential jurors. Nine have been stricken by attorneys, so far.

A total of 14 jurors will be selected which includes two alternates. Twelve jurors will deliberate the case.

The trial is scheduled to last throughout the remainder of the week before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern.

Hawthorne’s charges include first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, two counts of attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Hawthorne has another co-defendant, Deangelo “Fookie” Justice, who is being tried separately.

Laquila Bailey, who was charged with accessory to first degree murder after the fact, had her charge dismissed Monday. She was charged after police found her inside a motel room with Hawthorne when he was arrested.

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