MANATEE — Jury selection for three murder trials began today — including the trial of a 17-year-old boy charged with shooting to death another teen.
Byron Galloway, a thin lanky boy clad in a pink striped dress shirt and navy pants, sat with his attorney Chris Pratt, and made eye contact with about 74 prospective jurors filling Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith’s courtroom.
Galloway was charged with second-degree murder after Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators say he shot and killed 18-year-old Dejuan Williams. Galloway was visiting Williams’ younger sister at the time and fled the house when Williams arrived.
One of the issues with selecting a jury is the amount of media coverage surrounding the case.
“My concern is they won’t be fair or impartial based on what they’ve heard,” Assistant State Attorney Darlene Ragoonanan said in court.
When the prospective jurors were polled, 31 people indicated they had had some exposure to the case, with one woman stating she had read the Bradenton Herald’s coverage.
Williams, 18, was a star athlete at Bayshore High School who had graduated a couple months before he was killed Aug. 4, 2009.
Williams confronted Galloway with a baseball bat in the backyard, asking what he was doing in his house.
Galloway responded by first apologizing and then saying, “Forget this,” as he brandished a gun and shot Williams from about 10 feet away, according to court documents.
If convicted, Galloway could be sentenced to up to life in prison.
There are two other murder trials underway this week in Manatee:
n Dwight Baldwin, 22, is charged with first-degree murder. Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies say he beat a two-year-old boy to death while the child was sitting on a training toilet on Oct. 27, 2008.
The child, Tez-arrion Armour, belonged to Baldwin’s girlfriend. Baldwin told detectives he beat the child after he had soiled himself, according to reports.
n Jonathan Cabrera, 29, a member of the SUR 13 criminal street gang, is accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old Rodrigo Vasquez outside of La Escondida nightclub on 14th Street West on April 4, 2009.