Opening statements in Pittman trial begin Tuesday
Posted September 26, 2011
Updated September 29, 2011
Windsor, N.C. — The trial for a Rocky Mount man accused of a 2009 murder begins today in Windsor. Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday. in the case of Antwan Maurice Pittman.
Pittman, 33, is charged with one murder -- the 2009 death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson. But he is linked to the deaths of at least seven other women, and authorities have said they think he is a serial killer.
Pittman's trial began Monday in Bertie County, where it was moved from Edgecombe County because of the publicity the cases have received. Attorneys quickly selected 12 jurors and two alternates Monday.
That publicity played out Monday during jury selection. District Attorney Robert Evans asked each of the first four potential jurors what they knew about the case, and dismissed one potential juror who said she had seen coverage about "the murders." Evans then reminded the rest of the pool that Pittman is only charged in one murder.
Family and friends of the seven other women who have bonded over their shared loss were among those in the gallery as the jurors were chosen.
Nicholson, 28, disappeared in February 2009. Her remains were found in a wooded area near Seven Bridges Road in rural Edgecombe County on March 7, 2009. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled.
Over the course of five years, eight black women were reported missing from Rocky Mount, and their remains were later found in rural areas outside the city.
One woman who fits the profile, Joyce Renee Durham, 47, was last seen in June 2007 and is still missing.
Prosecutors told the court they plan to call law enforcement agents, forensic pathologists, Pittman's mother and girlfriend and Nicholson's mother in the arguing their case. They warned jurors that they would see graphic images and hear discussion of prostitution, but that they must be able to weigh evidence without being swayed by emotion.
Nicholson and the other women have been linked to prostitution and drug use.