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Jury in Batiste trial could be sequestered

 

Tim Pratt

 

Jury selection continued this morning in the capital murder trial of former Mississippi State University student Bobby Batiste, who is accused of killing his roommate last year at their off-campus apartment. 

 


More than 100 potential jurors assembled at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Monday and sat through a day of questioning at the hands of Judge Jim Kitchens, District Attorney Forrest Allgood and defense attorney Jim Lappan, each of whom tried to determine which people would give a "fair and impartial" opinion if chosen to serve on the jury panel, Kitchens said. Ninety-four potential jurors remained Monday at 5 p.m. when Kitchens dismissed the group until this morning. Lappan continued questioning prospective jurors today at 9 a.m.  

 


It is unclear if a 12-member jury will be finalized and Batiste''s trial will begin today, but Kitchens on Monday said it is a possibility.  

 


After Lappan finishes questioning the prospective jurors as a group, he and Allgood will have the opportunity to question people individually, Kitchens said. Only after the questioning is complete will the two sides select the final jury panel.  

 


"We very well may have a jury seated tomorrow evening," Kitchens told the group of 94 Monday afternoon. "So you need to know what you''re looking at. There''s the potential that you may be sequestered starting tomorrow night, so you just need to be aware of that. I can''t see into my crystal ball and begin to tell you for sure, but we will move as expeditiously as we can without trying to make a mistake." 

 


The trial is expected to last all week, with Lappan and fellow attorney Mark Williamson representing Batiste, and Allgood and Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Clemons representing the state.  

 


Batiste, of Preston, is accused of killing Andreas "Andy" Galanis, 28, of Biloxi, on or about March 7, 2008, in a residence the two men shared at 21 Apartments on Oktoc Road. Batiste, 29, was arraigned and pleaded not guilty in July 2008 to a charge of capital murder while in the commission of a robbery, and has spent more than a year in custody awaiting trial.  

 


Galanis'' body was discovered by authorities during the evening hours of March 7, 2008. Police were responding to concerns by Galanis'' parents after he did not show up for a 4 p.m. flight in Biloxi. 

 


After gaining access to Galanis'' apartment, deputies noticed large amounts of blood. Police then discovered the victim''s body. 

 


Authorities said they recovered a weapon, but did not disclose what it was or how Galanis died. Allgood on Monday said Galanis was beaten.  

 


Galanis'' body was taken to Jackson to undergo an autopsy, though details of the report weren''t released.  

 


According to the MSU campus directory, Galanis was a sophomore in the College of Business and Industry in March 2008, while Batiste was a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

 


If convicted of capital murder, Batiste faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, or execution. Lappan on Monday warned potential jury members of the weight of the situation.  

 


"If Bobby Batiste is convicted of capital murder, he dies in prison," Lappan said. "The only question is how he dies in prison."

 

 

 

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