Jury seated in confessed killer's retrial

Jury seated in confessed killer's retrial
Killed: Retired painting contractor Charles Martin
Killed: Retired painting contractor Charles Martin

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A jury has been seated in the retrial of confessed killer Eric Mickelson in Caddo Parish.

Mickelson, 46, was sentenced to death in August 2011 after being convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of retired painting contractor Charles Martin. The 86-year-old is believed to have been strangled when Mickelson and a woman allegedly broke into his home. Martin's dismembered body was found scattered throughout Caddo Parish in 2007.

After being arrested, Mickelson confessed to killing Martin and to slaying Kristi O'Pry 11 years earlier. He was the last person seen with her before she disappeared in July 1996. Mickelson told detectives that he strangled O'Pry then disposed of her body in a pond on his Woolworth Road property. He later was charged with second-degree murder in that case.

Mickelson appealed his first-degree murder conviction, arguing that Caddo District Court failed to let his attorney exercise a peremptory challenge and excuse a prospective juror from the capital case because he would not consider intoxication as a mitigating factor during the sentencing phase of the trial.

The Louisiana Supreme Court sided with Mickelson's attorneys, throwing out his conviction and death sentence and ordered a new trial.

That new trial began on Monday with the "death qualifying" phase of jury selection, in which the pool of prospective jurors was narrowed down those who are willing to consider both possible sentences - the death penalty and life imprisonment - if the 46-year-old again is convicted of first-degree murder.

Opening statements in Mickelson's new trial are expected to get under way at 3 p.m. Friday. Testimony is expected begin Saturday morning.

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