Murder trial begins

Published 2:00am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jurors were expected to hear opening arguments today as the trial in a murder case was set to begin.
Homer Herbert II was charged with capital murder after law enforcement officials connected him to the death of a two-year-old child nearly a year ago. The suspect has been held in the Escambia County Detention Center since his arrest Aug. 1, following a grand jury indictment in the case.
Herbert, of the Boykin community near Brewton, stands accused of the crime after a toddler in his care died of blunt force trauma, officials said.
Court officials, including District Attorney Steve Billy, were involved in jury selection Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the case. Panels of jurors were questioned and considered for the jury that will hear evidence in the case.
At the time of Herbert’s arrest, the grand jury indictment stated the suspect “did intentionally cause the death of Intrina Heaven Johnson…(by) inflicting multiple blunt force injuries.”
The capital charge in the case was a result of the age of the child according to Escambia County sheriff’s officials.
According to Billy, the child spent the night prior to her death at the home of the suspect. The injuries were apparently inflicted on the following morning, he said.
EMTs responded to a 911 call and tried to revive the toddler, who died on the way to the hospital, Billy said.
If found guilty, Herbert faces a possible death sentence or life in prison without possibility of parole.
Also in court this week was Donald Gregory Wilson who was expected to face a jury on charge of attempted murder.
As the trial was to begin on Tuesday, defense attorneys raised an issue of whether or not Wilson was competent to stand trial.
Court officials said testimony was presented in a motion hearing Tuesday morning from medical and psychological professionals concerning Wilson’s mental status.
Following the testimony Circuit Judge Bert Rice granted a continuation in the case to allow Wilson to be evaluated regarding his mental ability to assist his attorney in his defense.
Wilson is accused of attempted murder stemming from an incident at the Colonial Manor Motel on South Boulevard in 2010 when he allegedly fired shots that injured a hotel employee and other shots aimed at law enforcement officers responding to the scene.
Wilson faced a jury in June, however the proceedings were declared a mistrial by Circuit Judge Brad Byrne after a witness failed to appear for testimony in the case.
Wilson’s case could make another court appearance as early as December, officials said, pending the outcome of the mental evaluation in the case.

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