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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Whitfield County sheriff's deputies stand near Jay Thomas Burlison as he uses oxygen from a wheelchair during his bond hearing in Whitfield County Superior Court on Friday, July 6, 2018, in Dalton, Ga. Judge Scott Minter denied bond for Burlison, who earlier this week was arrested in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., for a 1984 murder at a Rocky Face gas station after more than 30 years on the run.

A 33-year-old Whitfield County, Georgia, murder case is set for trial this month.

Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston said lawyers will begin picking jurors on Sept. 24 in the case against Jay Thomas Burlison, who is accused of killing his wife's boyfriend in November 1984. A prosecutor and Burlison's defense attorney both said they were ready for trial during a hearing in Whitfield County Superior Court on Monday morning.

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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A Whitfield County sheriff's deputy wheels Jay Thomas Burlison into the courtroom for his bond hearing in Whitfield County Superior Court on Friday, July 6, 2018, in Dalton, Ga. Judge Scott Minter denied bond for Burlison, who earlier this week was arrested in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., for a 1984 murder at a Rocky Face gas station after more than 30 years on the run.
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Jay Thomas Burlison

"The Public Defender's announcement was subject to Mr. Burlison getting a hearing aid, which is supposed to happen this week," Poston wrote in an email. "So assuming that works out, both sides are ready to pick a jury."

Said public defender Micah Gates: "Mr. Burlison maintains his innocence and looks forward to having his day in court."

According to a Whitfield County Sheriff's Office incident report, Burlison shot and killed Ernest Griffin outside the Golden Gallon convenience store in Rocky Face. Witnesses said Burlison also shot his wife, Mary Burlison, but she survived. He then drove away, living in hiding until investigators found him in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, earlier this year.

Poston told the Times Free Press in July that his office's chief investigator, Glenn Swinney, a former Whitfield County detective, occasionally plugged Burlison's Social Security number into a database. For years, the search turned up nothing. But earlier this year, he got a "hit."

Poston said someone tried to sign Burlison up for Social Security benefits during a recent hospital visit. At the district attorney's office's prompting, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents then visited his listed address and confirmed he was the fugitive in a Whitfield County murder case.

Ernest Griffin's son, Eric, told the Times Free Press earlier this year that his father and Mary Burlison began to date when she and Jay Burlison were estranged. He said Jay Burlison had threatened to kill his father weeks before the shooting.

Eric Griffin said he ate dinner with his father the night he died. Ernest Griffin drove Mary Burlison to the Golden Gallon, where she worked, and Jay Burlison allegedly was waiting for them.

In October 1984, Mary Burlison filed for divorce from Jay Burlison and requested a restraining order. Her attorney wrote that Jay Burlison "threatens her with physical injury." Three days before the shooting, a judge granted Mary Burlison custody of her two children. (One of the daughters was from a previous marriage.)

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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