Stafford trial update

2 alternates chosen; Opening statements at 9 a.m. Monday

A jury of nine whites and three blacks -- four women and eight men -- will hear the opening arguments of attorneys Monday in the murder trial of Derrick Stafford.

The trial will begin at 9 a.m. Monday in 12th Judicial District Judge Billy Bennett's courtroom in the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse in Marksville.

Stafford is charged with the 2nd degree murder of Jeremy Mardis and attempted 2nd degree murder of the child's father, Christopher Few, during a traffic stop in Marksville on Nov. 3, 2015. The child was in the front seat next to his father when he was hit by five of the 18 bullets fired into Few's vehicle. Few was seriously wounded but survived.

It took prosecutors John Sinquefield and Matthew Derbes and defense attorneys Jonathan Goins and Christopher LaCour four days to select the 12 men and women for the jury. It took only a few hours this morning to finish the process by choosing two alternates -- a man and a woman, both white.

Goins has voiced his concern over the race of jurors during the week, but has indicated he is pleased with the racial makeup of the jury. Prosecutors have said race is not a factor in the case.

Stafford and his co-defendant Norris Greenhouse Jr. are both black. Few and his son are white. Greenhouse is being tried separately and is set for trial on June 12.

Avoyelles' population is approximately one-third minority and two-thirds white, so the 9-3 makeup accurately reflects the overall population. That balance will be off somewhat if a black juror falls ill and is replaced with a white alternate.

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