Anticipating a larger-than-usual crowd for jury selection in the Ernest Daise double-murder trial set to begin Wednesday, employees at the Beaufort County government center are being asked to park in a shopping center down the road from the complex, a county spokeswoman said.
Joy Nelson said employees at the government complex at Ribaut Road and Boundary Street in Beaufort were being asked to park in the Beaufort Town Center farther down Boundary Street because of an influx of people being called for the jury pool for the Daise trial.
Nelson said county Parks and Leisure Services buses would shuttle employees to and from the parking lot and the complex during peak hours. Other transportation and drivers would be available for emergencies during the day, she added.
Daise's trial is set to begin Monday, with jury selection running from Wednesday to Friday. Charged with the 2009 murders of his ex-girlfriend and her 4-year-old son, he faces the death penalty.
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In typical trials, only about 130 people are summoned for jury duty. Nelson said about 200 potential jurors were expected Wednesday, but a court official said nearly double that number were summoned for the jury pool in the capital case.
Nelson said the parking change is designed to make it easier for people reporting for jury selection to park at the complex. She added that she wasn't sure whether measures to increase parking had been taken before.
One of the last cases to involve such a large jury pool was the Tyree Roberts trial in 2003, when 400 people were called for jury selection. In that trial, Roberts was sentenced to death for the 2002 murders of Beaufort County Sheriff's Office deputies Lyle Tate and Dyke "A.J." Coursen. Roberts is now on death row at the Lieber Correctional Institute in Ridgeville.The last capital murder case in the county was in 2008, when Timothy Wick was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 78-year-old Beaufort resident Jeanne Welden. Between the Wick and Roberts trials, three others in Beaufort County faced the death penalty; two were sentenced to life in prison, while the third agreed to a plea deal before the trial's start.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court's moratorium on capital punishment ended in 1977, two Beaufort County residents have been executed. In 1998, John Arnold and John Plath were put to death by lethal injection for the 1978 murder of Betty Gardner on St. Helena Island.
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Keywords: ernest, daise, joy, nelson, beaufort, county, town, center, government, complex, danny, pieper, tyree, roberts