JURY SELECTION STARTS IN MURDER TRIAL

July 18, 1996Section: METRO Edition: ONE & TWOPage: 3C

Jury selection began Wednesday in the murder trial of a Catawba County man accusedof fatally beating his infant daughter one year ago.
Marcus Ray Stuart of Conover is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 10-week-old Megan Renae Start. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Paramedics brought the child to Catawba Memorial Hospital in July 1995 after Stuartreported she was having trouble breathing. Doctors at the hospital found that she had afractured skull and a broken leg, police said.
Megan was transferred to N.C. Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, where she died.Pathologists there discovered that her ribs and knees had also been broken, according to a police report.
Theodore cummings, an attorney for Stuart, disputed the police account of what injurieswere found at Catawba Memorial. But he declined further comment.
Stuart appeared in Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday in a white oxfordcloth shirt. He sat between his two lawyers, Cummings and Robert Adams, as theyquestioned potential jurors.
Eight jurors were selected.
A medical transcriber at Catawba Regional Hospital was asked whether she’d describe herself as “Pro-life.” She said yes. The hospital worker was also asked whether she handled notes written about the baby’s case.She said no, and she was kept on the jury.
An insurance adjuster whose wife runs an at-home day-care center in Hickory also wasplaced on the jury.
But first, Stuart’s lawyers asked whether having infants in his home would prevent himfrom being fair in this case. He said no.
Catawba County sheriff’s deputies contend Stuart, a former machine operator at thePoly mask plant in Conover, physically abused his daughter repeatedly after she was bornin April 1995. No charges have been filed against the girl’s mother, Amy Stuart.
Detectives charged the baby’s father because he watched the baby during the day andwas home with her when paramedics were called, police said. Opening arguements are expected to start this week.

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~ by mamadubs on January 11, 2006.

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