BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) Ten women and six men were chosen Tuesday to fill the jury box during trial of a Georgia man charged with clubbing his father and seven family members to death inside the cramped mobile home they all shared.
Guy Heinze Jr., 26, faces the death penalty if he's convicted of murder in Aug. 29, 2009, slayings just outside the coastal city of Brunswick. Prosecutors say he beat all eight victims to death with some type of blunt weapon. Heinze said in a 911 call that he found the bodies after coming home from a late night out. He cried to a 911 operator: ``My whole family is dead!''
Prosecutors and defense attorneys were scheduled to make opening statements Tuesday afternoon once jurors with packed suitcases had been checked into a hotel to be sequestered for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least two weeks. Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett told jurors they would have no access to cellphones or computers. Landline phones and televisions were being removed from their hotel rooms.
The 16-member jury panel seated Tuesday morning included four alternate jurors. To ensure they all follow the trial closely, the jurors won't know which 12 members will actually decide the outcome until it's time for them to begin deliberating Heinze's innocence or guilt.
The killings at the New Hope Plantation mobile home park stunned this coastal community 60 miles south of Savannah and made headlines across the nation. Testimony in the case should answer questions police and prosecutors have refused to discuss for years. How could one person kill so many people with no one managing to escape? And why would Heinze so violently slay some of the people considered closest to him?
The victims included the suspect's father, 45-year-old Guy Heinze Sr., and seven members of an extended family with whom they were living.
Rusty Toler, 44, was killed along with his four children: Chrissy Toler, 22; Russell D. Toler Jr., 20; Michael Toler, 19; and Michelle Toler, 15. Also slain was the elder Toler's sister, Brenda Gail Falagan, 49, and Joseph L. West, the 30-year-old boyfriend of Chrissy Toler. Her 3-year-old son, Byron Jimerson Jr., was seriously injured but ended up the sole survivor.
All of them shared a single-wide trailer that Rusty Toler rented for $405 a month. Managers of the park said Toler had taken in the Heinzes and family members who had fallen on hard times.
The killings and pretrial court proceedings over the past four years got plenty of news coverage in coastal Georgia, prompting the judge's sequestration order. Attorneys questioned hundreds of potential jurors one-on-one about their prior knowledge of the case and their beliefs about the death penalty. That took three weeks before a final jury was picked Tuesday.