Jury selected in case of man accused of murdering Lexington dermatologist

gkocher1@herald-leader.comAugust 5, 2013 

A jury of eight women and six men will hear opening statements Tuesday in the trial of Marty Lee Roe, the man accused of murder in the 2011 shooting death of Lexington dermatologist Dr. Martha Post.

The jury was seated early Monday night after potential jurors faced a full day of questions from Fayette Circuit Court Judge James Ishmael Jr., Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson and public defender Shannon Brooks-English.

If convicted as charged, Roe, 67, will face 20 years to life in prison. This is not a death-penalty case because there was no evidence of robbery or other "aggravating circumstance" to warrant execution under state law.

Two "alternate" jurors will be dismissed after all the evidence has been presented but before the jury begins deliberations of Roe's fate. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Post, 55, was shot multiple times on Sept. 1, 2011, as she backed her van out of the parking lot of her medical office. The van then rolled into a car on Huguenard Drive.

After the shooting, Lexington police focused on Roe, a transient whom Post and her husband, Dr. Robert Truitt, had befriended and invited to their home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But Post had complained to Lexington police in June 2010 that she had received numerous unwanted telephone calls from Roe, who had done renovation work in the building where she and her husband had offices.

Post and her husband had also told police that they had received several harassing voice mails and text messages to their cellphones.

Monday's jury selection was relatively smooth and uneventful for the high-profile case that had received extensive pre-trial media coverage.

From a pool of 94 potential jurors, 34 acknowledged that they had heard something about the case from the media or others. Those 34 people were questioned individually by the judge and attorneys, and 15 were excused from serving on the jury.

During further questioning, Larson noted that "There have been a lot of rumors circulating about this case," and then asked potential jurors if they had heard any of those rumors. Only one man responded and went up to the bench for a conference with the judge and attorneys.

Ishmael admonished the potential jurors not to look up anything about the case on Google or other online search engines. He also admonished the jurors not to post or share anything about the trial through Facebook or other social media.

During her questioning, public advocate Brooks-English noted that Roe is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. She spoke about notable acquittals, as in the Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson trials, and then brought up the case of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted July 13 in the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

"Does everyone here think they could do what that jury did?" Brooks-English asked. She also invoked the memory of 12 Angry Men, the 1957 movie in which Henry Fonda plays a juror who is initially the lone holdout for acquittal of a murder defendant.

"Can everyone promise me that you'll work really hard to keep your opinion despite what anyone else might say?" asked Brooks-English.

Meanwhile, court officials closely monitored the courtroom recording equipment Monday because they don't want a repeat of last week, when a mistrial was declared in another murder case because the opening statements and first four witnesses were not recorded. Those recordings are necessary to preserve a complete record in case of an appeal to a higher court.

Fayette Circuit Clerk Vincent Riggs said the equipment displayed no glitches.

One surprise nugget of information came during pretrial motions Monday, out of the hearing of potential jurors: Brooks-English mentioned that Truitt, Dr. Post's husband, has been subpoenaed as a defense witness. Later in the day, Larson said Truitt would also be called as a prosecution witness. The defense has not yet publicly stated its theory of the crime or whether it will propose an alternative culprit.

The trial will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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