NASHVILLE - For the first time since his arrest, Jesse Mathews appeared in court today in civilian clothes and without shackles.
Mathews appeared in the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Courthouse
wearing a long-sleeve forest-green shirt, tan slacks and a patterned necktie.
Beginning at 9:10 a.m. CST, 68 jurors met in the first floor of the courthouse. Jurors for Mathews' trial will be selected from Davidson County at the request of his attorneys, who hope to avoid tainting jurors' opinions of the case, which has received a high level of media coverage in Chattanooga.
Mathews, 27, faces the death penalty for the April 2, 2011 shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin. He is scheduled to go on trial in January.
In Nashville, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman explained to the first batch of potential jurors - a group that could number in the hundreds - that the actual selection will take place on Jan. 22, 2013. The trial is estimated to take two weeks, he said, and the selected jurors will be sequestered in Hamilton County.
The purpose of today's meeting is to identify immediate conflicts for potential jurors and eliminate them from the pool before the estimated weeklong selection process begins.
Steelman asked the first group's members if they had issues that may prevent them from sitting on the jury. Nineteen of the 61 present moved to ask to be excused.
The remaining jurors began filling out a 201-question form agreed upon by the prosecution and defense.
For more details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.