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Trial of Trucker Charged in 8 Deaths Begins Today

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DURHAM — The truck driver accused of killing eightpeople in a construction area wreck last year on Interstate-85 begins inDurham County court today.

Esau Dixon faces eight felony charges of involuntary manslaughter inthe accident, which occurred Aug. 23, 1996. Seven of those who died were riding in a John Umstead Hospital van. In all, 24 people in fivevehicles were involved in the wreck.

Troopers say Dixon was speeding when he hit several vehicles.

Before jury selection begins, attorneys are expected to argue overpreviously undisclosed statements that Dixonmade to authorities.

Prosecutor Mitchell Garrell notified defense lawyer Thomas Loflin onWednesday that he had learned of thestatements. The notification did not include details of what Dixon said.

Wednesday was the final possible date Garrell could have notified Loflinof the statement without possibly losing his right to introduce thestatements in the trial.

Loflin is expected to argue that Garrell also should have given him thecontents of the statements, which are in addition to previously releasedstatements from Dixon.