Jury is selected for murder trial

Suzanne Williams
Posted 11/16/21

Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected Tuesday morning, Nov. 16, to hear evidence in as the murder trial of Zachary R. Smith, 30, Paris.

Eight males and six females comprise the jury that …

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Jury is selected for murder trial

Posted

Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected Tuesday morning, Nov. 16, to hear evidence in as the murder trial of Zachary R. Smith, 30, Paris.

Eight males and six females comprise the jury that will determine if Smith is guilty of shooting and killing his neighbor Matthew M. Morgan, 31, Paris, in an argument that began and escalated on June 10.

Smith is facing a Class M first-degree murder charge alleging he shot Morgan with a .38 caliber handgun in front of neighborhood witnesses. Morgan later died at Horizon Health Hospital.

Presiding Judge Steven Garst told the 40 members of the potential jury pool the trial by jury process enables administering justice and is the center of American justice. 

“You will determine the facts...your job is to find the defendant guilty or not guilty,” said Garst adding, the first task is to select a fair and impartial jury. He told the jurors the trial is expected to last two days before the jury deliberates.

The jury pool members were called to the jury box in 12 person groups to answer questions about employment, personal criminal background, prior jury experience, knowledge of the case and if they knew any of the people on the potential witness list.

Garst also asked the pool if they had ever been a victim of a crime which would cause them to be impartial to either the prosecuting state or the defense.

Accused murderer Smith, with a new, short, faded haircut wearing a black dress suit, sat at the defense table with public defender William McGrath. Smith has been in custody of the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department since the incident with a $500,000 bond.

McGrath questioned several potential jurors about their backgrounds and answers before McGrath and Edgar County State’s Attorney Mark Isaf carefully chose the jurors.. 

The selected jurors range in age from the early 20s through 70 years-old and includes one college student, two retired individuals and a majority of blue collar workers.

The jurors were instructed to report to court at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday for jury instructions before the trial opening statements begin. Witness testimony from local police officers, emergency medical officials and those who observed the argument are expected to follow the opening statements.