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Jury selection starts in drug retrial of ex-LR officer

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published June 16, 2014 at 10:42 a.m.

Randall Robinson

Jury selection began Monday morning in the retrial of a former Little Rock police officer nearly a year after a jury couldn't decide whether he was guilty of escorting what prosecutors allege he thought was a shipment of drugs.

Randall Robinson is accused of helping, while on duty in 2012, another Little Rock officer escort a truck hauling what they believed was a large package of marijuana. It was actually part of an undercover FBI investigation that resulted in the arrests of the two officers.

A jury last July was deadlocked on three counts tied to those allegations, though the panel did find Robinson guilty of distributing a half-pound of marijuana in 2009.

Since that conviction, the former officer who testified he caught Robinson selling marijuana in 2009, Charles Weaver, was arrested over allegations he took money from the agency evidence room and then forged the signatures of its rightful owners to suggest he had returned it to them when he hadn't. Robinson's defense attorneys are seeking a new trial and said they would bring up Weaver's pending forgery charges if prosecutors tell the jury about Robinson's conviction in the 2009 crime, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Robinson is now facing charges of conspiracy to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute marijuana, attempting to aid and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, failing to report a crime, using a telephone in a drug crime and lying to investigators. The trial is expected to last four days.

Proceedings began at 9:30 a.m. with a panel of 32 potential jurors called. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller excused one woman who said her ex-husband is a police officer who had talked of the case. He questioned others on topics ranging from their awareness of the allegations from media reports, their views on law enforcement and their opinions on the legalization of drugs.

No jurors had been seated at 10:30 a.m. when Miller turned the questioning over to federal prosecutors.

The other officer in the case, Mark Anthony Jones, who is Robinson's half-brother, pleaded guilty to one of the charges against him and was sentenced to more than 8 years in prison.

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