09/13/06 — Jury set for Cox murder trial

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Jury set for Cox murder trial

By Lee Williams
Published in News on September 13, 2006 1:53 PM

A jury of nine women and three men will decide the fate of accused double murderer Telly T. Cox of LaGrange.

The sound of the words, "We are satisfied," from the prosecutor and Cox's defense attorneys ended two days of waiting and grueling questioning of the jury pool.

Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Jan Kroboth led the examination for the state. Defense attorney Rosemary Godwin questioned potential jurors for the defense. Defense attorney Mike Howell assisted during the second day of the jury selection.

Two male African-Americans and a female African-Americans, a Native American and nine Caucasians were selected. Two alternate jurors, including two female African-Americans, were selected should one juror be absent for any reason.

Jury selection began Monday and continued until 3:55 p.m. Tuesday. The jury selection process was tense at times, but there were also moments of comic relief as in the case of one juror interviewed to serve as a possible alternate.

Superior Court Judge Russell J. Lanier Jr. asked the male African-American juror if he knew anything about the case. He responded in the affirmative and added, "He's my cousin."

The juror's statement drew laughter from the audience of about 100 people.

"I don't believe you should serve on this case," Lanier said and asked the juror to return to his seat.

But the juror grew defiant and continued, "I don't like the court system. I never did."

Again, the judge asked the juror to return to his seat. Light laughter continued as he complied with the judge's orders.

The 12-member jury and two alternates selected Monday and Tuesday include people from many walks of life. One is a therapist who works with psychiatric patients at Cherry Hospital. Another juror is a criminal justice and psychology student who plans to dedicate his life to saving teens before they end up on the wrong side of the law.

"I want to work with them before the point where I'm dealing with it now," the African-American juror said. "You can't save the world. I would just like to work with those troubled teen-agers."

Also serving is a church pastor turned counselor who recently studied a course that taught what triggered a person to respond in a fit of rage or anger. He said he wanted to know what triggered those emotions, so he can help a person overcome them.

The juror stated he knew the twin brother of one of the victims, but he stated it would have no effect on his decision to convict or acquit the murder defendant. The pastor stated he would weigh the facts, apply the law and then make a decision.

"I'd rather disappoint him than disappoint God," he said.

Each juror will be called to set aside religious and personal beliefs and fairly evaluate the case presented during the Cox double murder trial.

Cox, 23, of LaGrange Road, is accused of shooting Michael Shawn Maynard, 30, and Christie Nicole Jones, 25, during a botched armed robbery he allegedly committed with 22-year-old Christopher Lee Brown of Forest Knolls Road.

The men allegedly stole two .22-caliber rifles, ammunition and a crossbow to pull off the armed robbery.

Maynard and Miss Jones were fatally shot during the armed robbery. The shootings occurred in Maynard's mobile home in the 100 block of Garrick Lane in Dudley about 3 a.m., according to reports.

Maynard's then 7-year-old daughter, who was visiting from out-of-state, witnessed the murders, but hid in a closet to avoid detection. Miss Jones told the little girl to dial 9-1-1 before she died. The little girl dialed the number, but hung up. Sheriff's deputies responded to the 9-1-1 hang-up call and found the two bodies.

Cox and Brown were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping and one count of attempted first-degree rape and armed robbery. A third suspect, Alonza Sonye Bedell, 22, of Hunters Creek, was charged for allegedly trying to cover up the crimes.

Brown pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder Jan. 19. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, according to earlier reports. He also was ordered to pay $10,000 restitution and to undergo psychological and psychiatric treatment, according to Wayne County court records.

Ms. Bedell also pleaded guilty Jan. 19 to four counts of accessory after the fact. Her plea agreement was granted under the condition she provide truthful testimony during Cox's trial, according to court records. Her sentence will be handed down once Cox's trial is complete, officials said.

The state's lead witness, Maynard's daughter, who is now 9 years old, is expected to testify at the trial. The case will resume today in Courtroom 4 at the Wayne County Courthouse. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

Cox, a convicted burglar, has a criminal history that spans from 1997 according to the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Cox could receive a mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if convicted of the murders.

Sources familiar with the case stated prosecutors decided not to press for the death penalty because Cox had a "low IQ" and was considered "mentally retarded."