Testimony has been delayed until Jan. 30.
A jury of seven men and five women will hear the case against a man charged with shooting Booneville Police Chief Al Brown last April.
Gregory Rongey, 49, is charged with first degree battery of a law enforcement officer in the case.
Seating the jury was accomplished with groups of four to six members of the current jury pool taken into a separate office for questioning by defense attorneys and state prosecutors before 15th Judicial District Judge Jerry Don Ramey.
Including a lunch break the process to select the jurors, and two alternates, took almost five hours — 24 members of the pool were excused — after which the state and defense both presented opening arguments.
That proved to be somewhat contentious as attorneys approached the bench three times, twice during deputy 15th Judicial District Prosecutor Tyler Barham’s remarks, and once during defense attorney Ernie Witt’s remarks.
At issue, apparently, was Barham’s request the jury think about the case, during which Barham said he expected to present witnesses to stipulate Rongey made a 911 call in the early morning hours of April 26 indicating he wanted to die and wanted help making that happen and other conversations with law enforcement.
Barham said he also expected testimony from other officers on the scene at an apartment four-plex in Booneville where Brown was shot, from doctors who treated the chief, from State Police investigators and from Rongey’s ex-wife.
Witt argued jurors had no reason to “think” about the case during the weekend because the case should be tried on evidence presented from the witness stand, which, he said, is how the system works.
Witt did agree, however, that a lot of the evidence Barham said he intended to present would not be disputed. Barham said he intended to present evidence which stipulated Rongey claimed ownership of the gun which was used when Brown was shot.
Following the statements, Ramey instructed the panel to have no discussions about the case among themselves or with others, or to permit the case being discussed in their presence, as well as to have no contact with those involved in the case. He also instructed them to read not newspaper accounts or tune in to any radio or television reports about the case.
Testimony in the case was set to begin at 9:30 Monday morning and the trial was expected to conclude Tuesday.
Check the Democrat’s website www.boonevilledemocrat.com for updates on the proceedings and see a full report in next week’s edition of the paper.