Kathy Taft

Nine jurors seated in Williford capital murder trial

Posted May 1, 2012 12:37 p.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2012 1:23 p.m. EDT

— Nine jurors were seated as of Tuesday morning in the first-degree murder trial of a Raleigh man accused of killing state school official Kathy Taft nearly two years ago.

Jury selection is in its fourth week in the trial of Jason Williford, who could face the death penalty if he's convicted of first-degree murder in Taft's March 9, 2010, beating death.

The longtime state school board member from Greenville was recovering from surgery at a friend's Raleigh home on March 6, 2010, when, police say, Williford broke into the house, raped her and beat her in the head with a blunt object.

Jury selection, which started April 9, has been a slow process, with attorneys spending hours vetting each potential juror about their views on the death penalty, mental health issues, homosexuality and other issues that might arise in Williford's trial.

Twelve jurors and at least two alternates are needed before opening statements can begin. Testimony is expected to last several weeks.