Jury selected in 1-year-old's murder trial


With more than 100 prospective jurors to choose from, prosecutors and defense attorneys spent all of Monday questioning those who will decide the fate of two men charged in the murder of a 1-year-old girl at the Moody Manor apartments.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m., a jury of eight women and four men had been seated in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to hear the case against Keshawn Jennings, 21, of 244 Wasaon St. and Antwaine Jones, 19, of 3145 Cottage Ave.

Both men are charged with aggravated murder, murder, improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, attempted murder, and four counts of felonious assault, each with gun specifications, in the Aug. 9 shooting death of 1-year-old Keondra Hooks and the wounding of her 2-year-old sister, Leondra.

A third co-defendant, James Moore, 21, of 2037 W. Terrace View St. faces the same charges, but is not on trial because he has agreed to testify in the case as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Keondra was shot once in the head when at least 12 rounds were fired into an apartment at 2225 Kent St. where she and her sister were sleeping. Leondra was shot once in the chest but survived.

Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones, both dressed in shirts and ties, sat between their two attorneys as jury questioning began first in Judge Frederick McDonald’s chambers and then in the courtroom.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors questioned prospective jurors about their impressions of police and courts, their understanding of the state’s burden of proof and a defendant’s presumption of innocence. They also were asked whether they had opinions about gangs, as evidence of gang activity is expected to be presented at the trial.

“Do you think that because of that membership or affiliation that individuals commit crimes? That they must be guilty of something?” Ronnie Wingate, an attorney for Mr. Jennings, asked the prospective jurors.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, resumes at 1 p.m. today with a visit to the crime scene. Judge McDonald told jurors he expects the trial to be completed by July 5 or July 8.

Each defendant was allowed to list six family members or friends who will be permitted to attend the trial each day, while the victim’s family was allotted 12 seats.

If convicted, Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones face up to life in prison.