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Jury Selection Begins In Beating Death Trial

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RALEIGH — A Wake County jury will have to decide whether a former Food Lion employee used excessive force when he followed accused robber Jason Cort out of the store, and detained him until police officers arrived. Daniel Rodbourn is on trial for Cort's murder.

The loss of a child is one of the most difficult tragedies a parent can face; Cheryl and Steven Cort are no exception. But they say this trial is about more than their son's death; they say it is about taking the law into your own hands.

There were tears and hugs of support when Cheryl Cort entered the courtroom Tuesday morning. Cort's 23-year-old son, Jason, died last May from injuries he received during a beating.

"What are we going to put up with? What are we willing to do in this society? Are we willing to let people take the law into their own hands? I think it is totally unacceptable," she said.

Cort was beaten after he allegedly robbed a Food Lion on Avent Ferry Road. Former Food Lion employee Rodbourn is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the case.

"I saw him make all these steps that he was making lately, and I had so many hopes and dreams for him," says Cheryl Cort. "His life was just cut short."

Cheryl Cort says this case is not about revenge or punishment, but about vigilantism. "My hope and my prayer is going to be that society's going to take a stand on all violence," she said. "That's very important to me."

Rodbourn's attorney, Rick Gammon, says his client was just trying to detain Cort until police arrived.

"He is very mild mannered. He's never played contact sports. He's never been in any substantial fights or anything like that," Gammon said. "He's a non-violent person."

The jury, consisting of five women and eight men -- including one alternate, will decided Rodbourn's fate. Opening arguments begin Wednesday morning, and the case is expected to last about one week.

During the motions, the defense asked that a 911 tape that came in from a convenience store clerk be suppressed as evidence. The call was made by Patrick Hall, who gave police a play-by-play of the beating. The judge has not yet ruled on that motion.