Nearly four years after the crime, a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and her 4-year-old son in Dale will be tried this week, according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Jury selection will begin Wednesday in the trial of Ernest Stewart Daise, 31, of Burton, who is accused of killing Jeanine Mullen and her son, Solicitor's Office spokesman Daniel Brownstein said. Opening arguments are expected to begin Oct. 14.
Mullen, a 34-year-old single mother of four, and her son Waltfredo Davis-Mullen were killed in an attack Nov. 15, 2009. The 2-year-old son of Mullen and Daise was also shot.
Mullen, a kindergarten teaching assistant at Shanklin Elementary School, and her two sons were found wounded inside her Player Road home by a relative. The 2-year-old boy survived after treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina. Mullen's two older sons were not home when the shooting took place.
Investigators revealed during pretrial motions in February that Mullen and Daise's son told paramedics, "My daddy did it" as he was being taken to the hospital.
Solicitor Duffie Stone is seeking the death penalty in the case. In a January 2011 hearing, Stone said the case met two of the possible aggravating circumstances that must be present for the death penalty to be pursued: Daise is accused of killing two or more people and of killing a child younger than 11 years old.
Stone will be the lead prosecutor for the trial. Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen will preside.
Daise has been in the Beaufort County Detention Center since the day after the shooting. He was charged with two counts of murder, assault with intent to kill, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He also was charged with trafficking crack cocaine and marijuana after investigators allegedly found drugs while searching his home.
Renovations at the Beaufort County Courthouse and availability of expert witnesses and defense attorneys delayed the trial, Brownstein said. During pretrial motions in February, Stone said he had been ready to try the case for more than a year, but Mullen did not set a June trial date because a defense expert witness was not available then.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.