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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Jury selection begins in Lockport triple murder trial

Jury selection begins in Lockport triple murder trial

A line spilled onto the sidewalk Monday outside the Lafourche Parish Courthouse in Thibodaux as potential jurors waited to enter a packed courtroom for a triple homicide trial.

The suspect, David Brown, 38, of Houma, is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 4, 2012, stabbings of 29-year-old Jacquelin Nieves and her daughters, 7-year-old Gabriela and 1-year-old Izabela.

Brown is also accused of sexually assaulting Jacquelin and Gabriela Nieves and then setting the family's Lockport apartment on fire. His trial is set to run through Oct. 21, with prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

State District Judge John LeBlanc is presiding over the case in a larger courtroom upstairs. Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant II is leading the prosecutorial team, and the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, led by New Orleans attorney Kerry Cuccia, is representing Brown.

Questionnaires were sent out in July to 1,000 potential jurors, though not all will show up for court. The judge and attorneys began questioning potential jurors to see if any were fit for trial.

After going over general qualifications for jurors, LeBlanc divided the first group of about 80 people into smaller panels and ordered them to return at different times throughout the week.

Jury selection is expected to last two or three weeks as other groups are brought in for examination.

A Harbor Police officer who previously worked for Probation and Parole was dismissed because he knew details of Brown's criminal history. A woman who said she knew the child victims' grandfather and his wife from attending their church was dismissed because of what LeBlanc described as confusing responses.

Two other potential jurors who said they didn’t think they could put aside what they’d learned about the case from news stories were also excused.

A woman who knew the victims was dismissed, as were a few people who claimed hardships such as loss of income.

Potential jurors cannot research the case or discuss it with anyone.

After a jury is chosen, those on it will be sequestered for the rest of the trial. They will stay in private rooms at a local hotel and have no contact with family or friends except for emergencies.

The jurors will first determine if Brown is guilty or not. If they find him guilty, they must then decide whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.


-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.