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Jury selection begins in death penalty trial

BRADENTON — Attorneys began jury selection Monday for the trial of Clifford Davis, who is accused of killing his mother and grandfather in 2005.

Davis, 23, is accused of first-degree murder in the killing of his mother Stephanie Davis and grandfather Joel Hill in the Wares Creek apartment he shared with his mother on Dec. 5, 2005.

Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer and Assistant State Attorney Art Brown spent much of the day weeding out potential jurors who had prior knowledge of the case, primarily through extensive media coverage over the years.

Davis faces the death penalty, if convicted, and Schlemmer has said in court documents she plans on mounting an insanity defense. Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith has set aside the rest of the week for jury selection, a week for the trial, and possibly a third week should jurors be called on to recommend punishment.

Prosecutors say Davis killed his mother in their apartment, and had sex with her dead body, then later lured his grandfather to the apartment and killed him.

On Monday, attorneys quizzed dozens of jurors about their knowledge of the case, with many reporting having heard about it. One woman wrote in a questionnaire about the case that Davis “was guilty and far from insane,” Schlemmer said in court. Smith later dismissed the woman from the panel of potential jurors.

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