CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A jury has been selected and opening arguments are expected this afternoon in Bradley County Circuit Court in the first-degree double-murder trial of Aaron Dean Lawson, who is accused in the April 2011 slayings of his daughter's grandparents.
Lawson, 32 at the time of his arrest, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in the deaths of Charles "Eddie" Phillips and Deborah Phillips. He is represented by local defense attorney Randy Rogers, and the case is being prosecuted by 10th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Stephen Hatchett.
Circuit Court Judge Carroll Ross is presiding over the trial.
Police say Lawson ambushed his then-11-year-old daughter's grandparents, Eddie Phillips, 58, and Debbie Phillips, 54, at their home on Leatha Lane near Charleston, Tenn., on April 19, shooting each of them at least three times.
Lawson was arrested in Hamilton County after an all-night manhunt.
Authorities said the killing was over where the victims' granddaughter would spend Easter weekend. Lawson and the child's mother, who are not married, had battled over custody of the girl.
Judge Ross called off a long list of potential witnesses so the dozens of Bradley County residents in the jury pools would be able to say whether they were related or acquainted with any of them.
Ross told panelists the trial could continue through Thursday or beyond.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.