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Jury sworn in at Hastings trial

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published June 18, 2013 at 9:45 a.m. Updated June 18, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.


Josh Hastings sits in court before jury selection is to resume Tuesday morning.

A jury of nine women and three men has been sworn in at the trial of Josh Hastings, the Little Rock police officer fired and charged with manslaughter after fatally shooting a teenage suspect in August.

Two women were also sworn in as alternates Tuesday. Opening statements are set to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The daylong selection process came to an end after some confusion that had one juror picked and then removed.

A jury of eight women and four men had been selected and attorneys had begun questioning potential alternates Tuesday afternoon when Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen stopped the proceeding, ordered the panelists out of the courtroom and then said new information surfaced suggesting one of the jurors is a "former coworker with a relative of the victim."

Griffen said he needed to research what should be done in the circumstances. He came back into the courtroom and questioned the juror, who denied knowing anyone in the victim's family.

Griffen said he could not dismiss the man from the jury, but he did allow the state to use its final strike to remove the man from the panel. The defense and the state each get a certain number of strikes to dismiss prospective jurors, though they are typically used before the jury is seated.

The defense objected to the ruling.

One man was excused earlier Tuesday by Griffen after he said he works for the city, knows the Hastings family and is "praying for [them] in this difficult time."

"It puts me in a very uncomfortable position," the man said of the prospect of being a juror on the case.

Other potential jurors were eliminated by prosecutors and the defense using their strikes.

Hastings is accused of shooting 15-year-old Bobby Moore III on Aug. 12 while investigating a report of a suspicious person breaking into vehicles at Shadow Lake Apartments, 13111 W. Markham St.

Hastings, 27, said he fired in self-defense while Moore drove a vehicle toward him, but police investigators said evidence and witness statements called that account into question. Prosecutors contend the vehicle was not moving toward Hastings at the time.

"It's not a whodunnit," Hastings' attorney, Bill James, told one panel of prospective jurors. "What you're going to have to worry about is whether he recklessly caused the death."

Hastings was charged with a single count of manslaughter in September and formally dismissed from the police department the next month.

John Johnson, chief deputy prosecutor, asked the potential jurors not to forget about Moore despite his faults. "I think you're going to find he's not perfect," Johnson said. "If he's not here and he's not perfect, does that mean you're just going to look the other way?"

The trial is expected to continue at least through Thursday.


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