Local News

Jury selection begins in Smithfield woman's murder trial

Posted August 25, 2008 10:39 a.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2008 5:14 p.m. EDT

— Jury selection began Monday and opening statements are expected Tuesday in the murder trial of a Smithfield woman accused of shooting her boyfriend to death.

Tiffany Ann Bassett is charged with first-degree murder in the July 18, 2006, death of her boyfriend, Donald "Keith" West, who was found dead in the bedroom of the home the couple shared.

Bassett and West's home was under foreclosure and was scheduled to be sold on the day deputies got the call about West's death.

The trial comes after a number of delays.

It was supposed to begin in March but Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson postponed it until April because prosecutors turned over a 437-page discovery file to defense attorneys five days before the case was to go to court. The case was then turned over to a new prosecutor.

In April, the trial was delayed indefinitely when Johnson, citing matters of "unintended consequences" said activities "impaired the ability" of the state to proceed.

West worked as a Smithfield police officer for several years before leaving the force in 2001 to start a private police security operation, West-Tek Inc.

Publicity surrounding case forced the court to change the trial venue from Johnston County to Cumberland County.

If convicted, Bassett could face a life sentence.