Jury selection starts in trial of man accused in deadly accident

Jury selection starts in trial of man accused in deadly hit and run

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Curtis Harper (left) arrives at court on Monday. Curtis Harper (left) arrives at court on Monday.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The trial for a man accused in a hit and run that killed a pregnant woman, her unborn child and a Knoxville man started Monday.

Curtis Harper faces a number of charges, including driving under the influence and vehicular homicide.

Harper is accused of hitting and killing Chasity Thornell and Nelzon Soto along Washington Pike last May. Thornell's unborn child is named as the third victim.

The day started with 42 people in the jury pool. Ten people were excused. Jury selection will continue Tuesday with the defense asking questions.

Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz said the trial will likely go into next week.

Five people were excused because their obligations and schedule wouldn't allow them to serve that long.

The judge also asked the potential jurors if they had heard about the case a majority said they had.

Those who had heard about the case were asked individually what their knowledge was. Five people were dismissed because they said it would be hard to put their personal feelings aside as a juror.

Jury selection continued with the state asking the potential jurors if they were familiar with Washington Pike, have ever been in an accident or ever ran out of gas.

After the jury pool was dismissed, photos were discussed. The defense opposes some of the scene photos and all of the autopsy photos. He says the pictures will inflame the jury.

The judge said she had seen all the photos and said they are extremely graphic and if used in the trial, the victims' families may leave the courtroom at any time.

Judge Leibowitz says she'll make a decision on what photos to allow Tuesday.

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