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Jury Selection Begins Tuesday in Burmeister Case

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FAYETTEVILLE — Jury selection is scheduled to beginTuesday in the trial of James Burmeister, one of two Fort Bragg soldierscharged in connection with the deaths of Jackie Burden and Michael James.

The couple was gunned down on a Fayetteville street in December of1995. 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 throughmetal detectors at the main door of the courthouse, anyone entering theroom 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, althoughcameras will be allowed in for the trial itself. "Court TV" plans to cover thetrialand several high-profile national news programs have inquired aboutcovering it.

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

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

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

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