Local News

Jury Selection Begins Tuesday in Burmeister Case

Posted January 20, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the trial of James Burmeister, one of two Fort Bragg soldiers charged in connection with the deaths of Jackie Burden and Michael James.

The couple was gunned down on a Fayetteville street in December of 1995. Police are calling it a hate crime, saying the couple was killed because they were black.

Security is extremely high around the courtroom. After passing through metal detectors at the main door of the courthouse, anyone entering the room housing the Burmeister trial will have to pass through a second, hand-held metal detector and must show identification and sign in.

Burmeister is charged with two counts of first degree murder.

No cameras will be allowed inside during jury selection, although cameras will be allowed in for the trial itself. "Court TV" plans to cover the trial and several high-profile national news programs have inquired about covering it.

The other suspect, Malcolm Wright, will be tried separately in March. A judge has granted a change of venue for that trial and it will not be tried in Cumberland County or in any county adjacent to Cumberland. Wright is also charged with two counts of first degree murder.

A third man originally charged in this case, Randy Meadows, has agreed to testify against Burmeister and Wright. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit assault and accessory before the fact to assault. Meadows is believed to have driven the car on the night of the crime.

The Burmeister trial is scheduled to begin February 10, 1997.