Jury selection was set to begin at press time today in circuit court here for trial of a Texarkana man accused of the April, 2012, shooting death of his stepfather in what the defense claims is a justification shooting.
Jury selection was set to begin at press time today in circuit court here for trial of a Texarkana man accused of the April, 2012, shooting death of his stepfather in what the defense claims is a justification shooting. Don Airsman, Jr., 30, of Texrkana, was extradited from Dunklin County, Mo., in May, 2012, from his hometown of Hornersville, Mo., where he had allegedly fled to the home of his biological father after what authorities allege was the murder of his stepfather, William Allen Jones, 60, of Saratoga, in April, 2012. The charges against Airsman stem, in part, from evidence given by a material witness, who has remained unnamed. The witness has given evidence which alleges that Airsman shot Jones at the elderly man's home in Saratoga, then put his body into the trunk of Jones' Honda, and drove it to Bowie County, Texas, where Airsman allegedly covered the vehicle with gasoline and set it ablaze. Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen said this morning that a trial schedule has been set aside in circuit court here for the bulk of the week. “We are planning to pick a jury today, and start testimony tomorrow,” McQueen said. “We may not have two full days of testimony, but possibly.” She did not say how long the defense case by Eighth Judicial District-North Public Defender Danny Rodgers is expected to require. Rodgers sought to have Airman's arrest voided because he contends statements made by Airsman at the time were not obtained lawfully. The sheriff of Dunklin County, Mo., his chief deputy, three other law enforcement officers and another witness were called to testify in hearings in February. Rodgers argued that Airsman immediately invoked his right to an attorney upon his arrest, and argued precedents to support his point, but Eighth Judicial District-North Circuit Judge Randy Wright rejected the argument, and has scheduled trial to proceed. Rodgers has also argued other motions to limit evidence submissions stemming from the bi-state nature of the investigation which followed the discovery of Jones' body, but Wright has rejected most of those arguments, as well, leaving others for resolution during the evidentiary phase of the trial. Rodgers gave formal notice in August, 2012, of the defense's intention to assert an affirmative defense of justification in the shooting. “Justification, in accordance with Ark. Code Ann. Section 5-2-607(a)(1) and/or (2), in that he reasonably believed that William Allen Jones was committing or about to commit a felony involving force or violence, and/or (2) was using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force...,” the defense argued in its original filing. The testimony of the material witness involved in the events surrounding Airsman's arrest in Missouri is expected to be central to that defense, according to filings by Rodgers. “Witnesses in support of the above defenses may include any and/or all witnesses named or otherwise identified in the State's investigative file, including the Defendant and Don Airsman, Sr., and such other witnesses as may hereafter be named of record or by subpoena request made to the Clerk of this Court,” the defense filing states. According to statements allegedly given to law enforcement, a material witness to the shooting and the events subsequent to it, has said that he/she was with Airsman at the time Jones was shot, at the time that Jones' body was transported to a rural area of Bowie County, Texas, and burned in the trunk of his car, and at the time that Airsman fled to Missouri.