Brazos County Sheriff Contacting Absent Jurors for KFC Murder Trial

By: Meredith Stancik Email
By: Meredith Stancik Email

What if you threw a trial and no one came? That is what Brazos County County officials are dealing with.

600 prospective jurors were summoned, but only 140 showed up for jury selection Monday morning in the trial of Darnell Hartsfield. Hartsfield is accused of the 1983 murders of five people, taken from a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Kilgore.

Normally it would be alright if only one fourth of the jurors summoned showed up, but officials say in this case the African American representation was very low.

Judge J. Clay Gossett ordered the Brazos County Sheriff to contact all jurors that failed to appear for jury selection. A list of 139 residents was given to the sheriff's department. The remainder of the jurors who did not appear, had contacted the court previously and been excused.

The sheriff will order those who failed to appear, to show up at the Brazos County 85th District Courtroom at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Jurors that do not appear at that time may be arrested and fined. If you received a jury summons and failed to appear contact Sergeant Randall, with the Brazos County Sheriff's Department, at 979-361-4166.

Opening statements are expected to begin Monday morning at 9 a.m. in Brazos County's 361st District Courtroom.

Darnell Hartsfield, 47, faces trial on five capital murder charges.

Police say Hartsfield and his cousin, Romeo Pinkerton, shot and killed the five people abducted from the KFC Restaurant then dumped their bodies at an oil well near Henderson.

Pinkerton took a plea deal avoiding the death penalty and accepted five life prison terms.

In May prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty against Hartsfield. Hartsfield was convicted of aggravated perjury in 2005, he is currently serving a life sentence because of six earlier felony convictions.

The trial was moved to Bryan because of local publicity.

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