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Murder trial may start next week

Jury selection is expected to begin next Tuesday in McDuffie County Superior Court with the murder trial of a 26-year-old man accused of shooting to death a Thomson man more than a year ago.

Michael Johnson will be standing trial on murder and other charges stemming from the slaying of Todd Brooks at Mr. Johnson's mobile home off the Wrens Highway near Thomson on Nov. 22, 2006. The case had been scheduled for trial last September, but because certain physical evidence had not been processed at the time by lab experts with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the trial was postponed.

A total of 100 perspective jurors have been summoned to court next week as possible jurors in the case, according to McDuffie County Superior Court Clerk Connie Cheatham. The actual jury will be made up of 12 persons along with two alternates. Dennis C. Sanders, district attorney of the Toombs Judicial Circuit, will prosecute the case, while Jacque Hawk of Augusta, will represent Mr. Johnson as defense attorney.

The trial is expected to last four days, court officials say.

Security measures, meanwhile, are expected to be tightened with additional deputies on hand to help regular assigned court bailiffs. Sheriff Logan Marshall will be in charge of the overall security and protection of the defendant. Shortly after his arrest on murder and associated criminal charges, Mr. Johnson's life was threatened. It prompted Sheriff Marshall to beef up security around the law enforcement center during a bond hearing.

A number of persons are expected to testify during the trial, including several local and state law enforcement officers. Testimony may also come from agents with the FBI and crime lab experts. Sheriff Marshall and Sheriff's Investigator Larry Adaway, as well as Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent David Leonard, are expected to testify.

Mr. Brooks, a self-employed businessman, was shot to death inside Mr. Johnson's mobile home following a verbal argument that occurred outside. Mr. Brooks, who was shot multiple times with a .38-caliber revolver, was administered treatment for his wounds at the scene before being taken to McDuffie Regional Medical Center where he later died.

Web posted on Thursday, January 10, 2008

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