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More than a hundred people reported to the Brunswick County courthouse for jury duty Monday morning.
The prosecution and defense are seeking 12 qualified jurors and two alternates to decide the fate of Carl Henry Alston in the county’s first capital punishment case since 2006.
Qualified jurors must not oppose the death penalty and must also be willing to consider life in prison if the defendant is found guilty.
Jury selection is expected to continue next week with opening statements to be presented late in the week.
Alston, 39, has been charged with felony murder, felony first-degree rape and felony first-degree kidnapping.
Alston was jailed Sept. 4, 2008, for his alleged role in the murder of 49-year-old Valerie Burns in late July 2008.
Burns’ body was found inside the trunk of her car in Leland on July 30, 2008. She was last seen in downtown Wilmington on the night of July 29, 2008.
Alston has been in the Brunswick County Detention Center under no bond since Sept. 4, 2008. Defense attorneys Mike Ramos and James Payne represent Alston.
The prosecution, under the direction of assistant district attorney Lee Bollinger and district attorney Jon David, is seeking the death penalty.
Alston, 35 at the time of Burns’ death, lived less than 400 yards from where her body was found inside her burning car.
Alston lived at 457 Colony Lane, Leland, when he was arrested.
Alston had been released from the North Carolina Department of Corrections on June 22, 2008, after serving 14 months for possession of a schedule II controlled substance.
Thirty-eight days later, Burns’ body was found inside the trunk of her car.
Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.