Nearly 200 jurors screened in trial for suspect accused of murdering trooper

Nearly 200 jurors screened in trial for suspect accused of murdering trooper
Russell Ervin Brown (Source: NBC12)
Russell Ervin Brown (Source: NBC12)

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - Nearly 200 jurors have been picked for screening in the trial for the man accused of murdering a Virginia State Police trooper along Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie in 2013.

Jury selection could take days in the trial of the man accused in the murder of Master Trooper Junius Walker. Russell Brown may face the death penalty if convicted. As of Monday, only four people had been chosen as potential jurors.

Attorneys say once they screen nearly 30 jurors, they may stop interviews so the trial against Russell Ervin Brown can begin.

Brown is accused of shooting Master Trooper Walker during a traffic stop around 1:30 p.m. on March 7, 2013.

Police say Walker, who was patrolling alone, called for backup after being fired upon after stopping to assist the suspect who was parked on the side of the interstate. He was able to return fire and call for assistance, but his patrol car then lunged forward and ran off the right side of the road coming to rest in the woods approximately 30 feet from the interstate.

A passing motorist called 911 to report a trooper in distress. The first two state troopers responded within two minutes of the radio call and one observed the subject standing outside Walker's patrol car with a weapon.

According to police reports, the responding trooper and the subject exchanged gunfire before the subject fled on foot into the woods. Just before 2 p.m., deputies with the Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office took the subject into custody.

Following several evaluations of Brown's mental state, it was decided he was competent to stand trial in March of 2015.

The defense says that Brown says he shot Walker, but claims he was insane at the time.

Walker's wife last spoke publicly about the loss of her husband, a 40-year veteran, several years ago.

"Walker was never one to talk much about he did on a daily basis," said Betty Walker. "In fact, when I would ask him how his day was, he'd say 'Fine.' I'd ask, 'What did you do today?' He'd say, 'Nothing.' Obviously he was minimizing what he did for the community in so many ways and it's only since his passing that we've come to realize that."

The entire trial may take a month. Many jurors said they knew Walker or a member of his family. One woman who was not selected became emotional when talking about his murder. Another man who was not selected said he had followed the news coverage extensively and did not believe he could be impartial.

Brown faces half a dozen charges, the most serious of which is capital murder of the police officer. If found guilty, jurors will have to decide between the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The death penalty decision will need to be unanimous.

Brown's defense team says they will try to prove he is not guilty by reason of insanity.

All parties will be back in the courtroom early Tuesday morning and will continue to interview each potential juror individually.

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