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US

Mississippi school shooting trial starts Tuesday

Woodham
Woodham  
June 8, 1998
Web posted at: 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT)

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (CNN) -- Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday in the trial of a Mississippi teen-ager accused of shooting two schoolmates after he killed his mother last year.

Luke Woodham is accused of killing ex-girlfriend Christina Menefee, 16, and classmate Lydia Dew, 17, and wounding seven other people at Pearl High School on October 1, 1997.

Last week, a jury in Philadelphia, Mississippi, convicted Woodham, 17, of killing his mother before the school shootings. Mary Woodham, 50, was beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed to death.

Woodham was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of getting out until he is at least 65. He faces a second life sentence in the school shootings.

Woodham arrived in Hattiesburg on Monday and was taken to the Forrest County Jail across from the courthouse. He was under a suicide watch at the jail.

"I have something to live for. God plans for everything," he said as he arrived.

Woodham's attorney, Leslie Roussell, said Monday he will contend Woodham was insane, the same defense presented during his mother's trial.

In a maneuver that would reduce the amount of emotional testimony, Roussell offered to stipulate to the events that occurred when prosecutors say Woodham brought a gun to school and opened fire.

But prosecutor John Kitchens said he intended to call more than a dozen of Woodham's high school classmates, teachers, and administrators to testify.

He said he would agree to stipulate the details on the guns and bullets used, which would allow testimony about that evidence to be curtailed. Kitchens said he expected that testimony in the trial would move quickly.

Both trials were moved from Pearl, near Jackson, because of pre-trial publicity. Jury selection was to have started Monday but was postponed because of a tornado that hit Hattiesburg during the weekend.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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