A prosecutor and Lee Turner Jr.’s attorneys inched closer Monday to choosing a jury in the capital murder case of the Baton Rouge man accused of gunning down two CarQuest Auto Parts employees during a 2011 robbery of the Airline Highway store near Siegen Lane.
The tedious jury selection process will enter its 12th day Tuesday in state District Judge Richard Anderson’s courtroom at the 19th Judicial District Courthouse with 11 jurors tentatively picked so far. The two sides are trying to seat a dozen jurors and two alternate jurors to hear the case.
If jury selection wraps up Tuesday, opening statements and testimony would begin Wednesday.
Once empaneled as a group, jurors will be put up in a hotel for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last one to two weeks.
Turner, 25, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the March 27, 2011, shooting deaths of store manager Edward Gurtner III, 43, of Denham Springs, and Randy Chaney, 55, of Greenwell Springs. Turner was 21 at the time.
East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant District Attorney Tracey Barbera intends to seek the death penalty if Turner is found guilty as charged.
If Turner is convicted of first-degree murder in the guilt phase of the trial, jurors would be asked in the trial’s penalty phase to decide whether he should die by lethal injection or spend the rest of his life at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
Turner, who worked at CarQuest locations on Plank Road and Government Street, was hired by the company less than two weeks before the killings.
Detectives found money, bank bags and CarQuest deposit slips at Turner’s Ritterman Avenue home the day after the slayings, according to pretrial testimony in the case. Turner told detectives in a lengthy videotaped statement that he went to the Airline Highway store to rob it but ended up shooting the men after one of them recognized him.