Jury set for Lane murder trial
By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 19, 2005 2:01 AM
The trial of Eric Glenn Lane for the first-degree murder of a 5-year-old girl will start Monday in Wayne County Superior Court -- maybe.
The third and final alternate juror was accepted Friday by the state and defense to complete the jury selection. Hundreds of people were questioned by both sides in an attempt to seat 12 jurors and three alternates.
The last two times that the trial was about to start something happened to derail it. The original trial was declared a mistrial Nov. 9, 2004, because of juror misconduct. A new trial was stopped May 31, because the random selection of jurors was compromised. In each case, 12 jurors had been seated and the selection of alternates had begun.
Defense lawyer Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro asked Friday that the trial be started Tuesday so he could have more time to prepare for the testimony of expert witnesses, including mental health professionals.
But Assistant District Attorney Terry Light told Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw the state wants to start Monday. Then she added, "We've never gotten this far in the trial."
District Attorney Branny Vickory also argued against a delay, saying he was not "absolutely convinced" that Lane would cooperate with a psychiatrist. At times in the past, the 33-year-old defendant refused to meet with mental-health professionals.
Trawick then compromised on the starting time, setting it for 1 p.m. Monday.
Trawick also said he will recess court for the week at about noon Thursday so Barfield can attend a ceremony in Asheville honoring one of his law partners, Henson Barnes, who will be inducted into the N.C. Bar Association Hall of Fame.
Lane, who worked in the family's electrician business, is accused in connection with Precious Ebony Whitfield on May 17, 2002, in his home on Brandywine Drive in the Patetown community.
The little girl was visiting family friends who lived a few doors from Lane. According to court papers, she and other neighborhood children went to Lane's yard to play on his swing set. The other children left, and Precious went inside the home. Her body was found two days later by people fishing in Nahunta Creek near the Airport Road bridge.
In addition to first-degree murder, Lane also is charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, indecent liberties with a child and a lewd and lascivious act.
If he is convicted of first-degree murder, then the same jury would decide his fate -- life in prison without parole or death.
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