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Fayetteville Murder Trial Begins Under Tight Security

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FAYETTEVILLE — After adelay Mondaymorning, a highly anticipated and much talked about trial is under way in Fayetteville. The defendants, two young men, are charged with killing two women and shooting another woman as part of a gang initiation.

During opening arguments, the state told jurors that Susan Moore, Tracy Lambert and Debra Cheeseborough were all abducted at random. The state says Eric Devon Queen and Francisco Tirado shot all three victims just to enter a gang.

Prosecutors say police found the dead victims' jewelry and bloody money on the defendants. Cheeseborough, the only victim to survive, and family members of the other victims, broke into tears as prosecutors recounted the early morning of August 17, 1998.

"And they left her for dead. She'll tell you she stayed there and was determined not to die," said Assistant District Attorney Charles Scott of the abduction and shooting of Cheeseborough.

As family members listened and cried, the state shared its story of the shootings of Lambert and Moore.

Queen and Tirado, known as Paco, are among nine people charged in this case.

Queen's attorney deferred opening arguments; Tirado's attorney asked jurors not to be quick to judgment.

"You must keep the facts, the players and the witnesses involved in this case separately," Carl Ivarsson told jurors.

Late Monday afternoon, testimony got under way with the people who found Cheeseborough injured, but alive, on Fort Bragg.

During jury selection, no briefcases or purse were allowed in the courtroom. During the trial, the judge has ordered even stricter security measures.

Courtroom observers must walk through two metal detectors -- one to enter the courthouse, and to enter the courtroom. Photo identification is required and those attending the trial must sign in.

The trial, which was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. did not get under way until after noon.

Because of a fire at the Cumberland County jail several weeks ago, the defendants were being held at different jails. Sheriff's officials forgot to go get them.

Queen and Tirado are also charged with various other crimes, including the attempted murder of Cheeseborough. She is expected to testify in the trial. If convicted, both suspects could be sentenced to death.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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