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Large jury pool picked for W.Va. murder trial

December 05, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A jury pool of 150 people will be used Dec. 12 to select a panel of jurors to hear the trial of Roger Dwayne Smith, who is charged with murder in the death last year of 14-year-old Miana Stewart.

The jury pool was discussed Monday during a pretrial hearing before Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said attorneys in the case need the large jury pool because of widespread publicity about the case.

Games-Neely and Smith's lawyers agreed Monday to hold the selection process for jurors in the Berkeley County Courthouse at the corner of King and Queen streets, where there is more room for the large crowd. The trial will be in the county's new judicial annex on Stephen Street, the site of Monday's hearing.

Smith is also standing trial on charges of attempted murder, aggravated robbery, grand larceny, possession of a stolen vehicle and malicious wounding, Games-Neely said.

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Miana was found Oct. 13, 2005, bound, gagged and tied to a weightlifting bench in the basement of her Gerrardstown, W.Va., home.

When Miana's mother, Mary Stewart, returned home, she was beaten with a baseball bat, tied up and taken to the basement, police said. She was able to free herself and run to a neighbor's house for help, police said.

When police arrived about 15 minutes later, a man later identified by police as Smith was seen running from the back of the Stewart home. The man had blood on his clothes and items that belonged to the Stewart family in his possession, police said.

During Monday's hearing, Sanders explained to Smith that he would be allowed to testify or remain silent during his trial. Sanders told Smith that he would give jurors directions based on the decision Smith makes regarding testifying.

"Do you understand that?" Sanders asked.

"Yes, sir," Smith said.

Smith has not made the decision whether to testify.

Games-Neely and Smith's lawyers discussed other issues Monday, including work that is still ongoing regarding evidence, although it is nothing that will delay the trial, Games-Neely said.

A status hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. before Sanders.

Next week's trial is expected to last three or four days, Sanders said.l3s

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