mostlycloudy
Saturday July 4th, 2015 10:43PM

Jury seated for Ga. trial in mobile home slayings

By The Associated Press
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.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
VIDEO: "76 For Our Sacred Honor"
AccessWDUN presents a special video presentation in celebration of our nation's Independence Day. It was produced by AccessWDUN Videographer David Cook.
By AccessWDUN
8:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
Study says Ga. teachers, state employees are paying more for health care
Teachers and state employees in Georgia are paying more for their health care than other public sector employees, according to a new study by the state Department of Community Health.
5:58PM ( 4 hours ago )
UNG campuses adding more parking, classrooms this summer
Construction projects to add more parking, classroom and recreational spaces on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) four campuses are in progress and should be finished sometime this fall.
By AccessWDUN staff
5:45PM ( 4 hours ago )
Demorest Fourth of July Parade a Success
Approximately 2600 people watch the Glorious Fourth of July Parade in Demorest this morning.
5:01PM ( 5 hours ago )
Utility drones could inspect equipment, scan for outages
LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) — When tornadoes and hurricanes topple power lines in the future, flying drones might be the first to pinpoint the damage.Power companies across the United States are testing whethe...
4:21PM ( 6 hours ago )