YORK, Pa. - Jurors weighing murder charges against former Mayor Charlie Robertson and two other defendants accused in the murder of a black woman during a week of racial violence in 1969 will begin hearing the case today.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to summarize their evidence in opening statements this morning after the judge swears in and gives preliminary instructions to the jury of six white men and six white women.
The lawyers finished selecting the last of six alternate jurors yesterday, adding a white man who coaches youth athletics and a white woman who has worked for the Pennsylvania State Police. The other alternates are two white men, a white woman and a black man.
The alternates will deliberate only if a member of the jury gets sick or cannot otherwise continue serving during the trial, which is expected to last four weeks.
Robertson, who was a police officer at the time of the fatal shooting, is accused of supplying ammunition and encouragement to white gang members who attacked Lillie Belle Allen, the 27-year-old daughter of a Baptist minister from Aiken, S.C. She was visiting relatives in York.
Robert N. Messersmith and Gregory H. Neff also face murder charges in the case.