Jury selected for murder trial of Bradenton man charged with strangling girlfriend

Jury selected for murder trial of Bradenton man charged with strangling girlfriend

acastillo@bradenton.comJune 23, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Jurors were selected Monday in the murder trial of a Bradenton man charged with strangling a girlfriend he suspected was sleeping with another man.

Investigators say Cornelius Baskin strangled Regina Nunez hours after accusing her of having sex with someone else.

Nunez's mother found her dead on her bed at her home in Bayshore on the Lakes Apartments, 4203 24th St. W., the morning of June 7, 2012. Her mother checked on her after receiving a call from Baskin's father to say his son had been hospitalized and they should look in on her, according to the arrest warrant.

Baskin, 26, is charged with second-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

Before four women and three men were chosen as jurors, including one alternate, more than two dozen potential panelists waited outside Courtroom 6A in the Manatee County Judicial Center.

Judge Charles Roberts spoke to several potential jurors individually about pretrial publicity while the rest of the group went on lunch break.

After the break, jury selection was conducted by Assistant State Attorney Art Brown, who questioned 30 potential jurors.

One woman was asked who she knew from law enforcement. Brown asked if any of them had an incarcerated loved one.

Defense attorney Mark Lipinski later took his turn questioning potential jurors.

Dressed in a dark brown suit, Baskin occasionally took notes with a No. 2 pencil while sitting quietly between Lipinski and defense attorney Scarlett Guy.

A few hours before investigators say she was killed, her best friend reportedly told detectives she received a call from Nunez, who was crying because Baskin had accused her of having sex with someone else.

The friend said Nunez had also taken a pregnancy test that came up positive and was having morning sickness. Nunez's friend came to see her and stayed with her for a couple hours, the arrest warrant states.

Investigators say Baskin was admitted to the psychiatric ward at Manatee Memorial Hospital early the morning after Nunez's death. His father reportedly took him to the hospital because he was acting crazy and wouldn't rest. As soon as police were notified of Nunez's death, Baskin's father hired an attorney for him.

Based on a forensic psychological evaluation submitted to the court, Baskin was deemed competent to stand trial May 19, according to court records.

Throughout jury selection Monday, two men sat in the back of the courtroom wearing purple wristbands on their left wrists reading: "RIP Regina 'Nina' Nunez." They were with a woman, whose purse dangled from her legs as she stared ahead.

The murder trial reconvenes at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

Jessica De Leon contributed to this story.

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