Local murder trial expected to begin Tuesday

UPDATE:  While proceedings in the case were slated to start Tuesday morning, we’ve learned that hearings prior to jury selection now will not start until Tuesday at 1:30pm.  Our original story is below.

Jury selection is expected to start Tuesday in a high-profile local murder case. A judge almost two weeks ago said he’d make sure a larger-than-normal pool of potential jurors is called for the trial of 29-year-old Jonathan Kelly — facing grand jury-filed charges of three-counts of First-Degree Murder, one count of Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm, and one count of Possession of a Weapon by a Felon.

Kelly was allegedly involved in a fight early last April first that spilled into a parking lot outside the Seminary Street Pub. He allegedly fired gunshots during the Easter Sunday incident — one of which struck and killed 26-year-old Jenni McGruder — described by police as a bystander.

Kelly eventually fled the area after the shooting, but was arrested in June in South Dakota.

The larger jury pool was called in part because of the severity of the crime, in part because of the potential that many potential jurors have at least heard of the case and may not be impartial. The hashtag “Justice for Jenni” appeared on social media, the backs of cars, and even gas station signs following the death.

Following last-minute motions and a review of potential jury instructions, jury selection will begin in the afternoon, with actual testimony likely the next day.

We’ll have frequent updates from the Knox County Courthouse on WGIL, WGIL.com, and on WGIL’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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