Jury Selection Begins In Officer's Trial

Jury selection began Tuesday morning in the criminal case against one Moss Point police officer charged in the death of inmate Marcus Malone. 30-year old Steve Strickler is the first of three Moss Point police officers to face manslaughter charges for Malone's death. Strickler's attorney asked for the case to be tried separately from Officers Chris Weeks and Derrick Welton.

In September of 1999, Moss Point Police pulled over 32-year-old Marcus Malone for a traffic violation and possible drug charges. Malone was taken to the city's jail, where was later found dead in his cell.

Two forensic pathologists performed autopsies on Malone's body, but came to conflicting conclusions as to the cause of death. The case was presented to a grand jury last summer after a third pathologist found Malone had been beaten around his neck and chest.

Jackson County Reporter Ken Flanagan talked to some Moss Point residents this week who say they're ready for some answers.

"I hope the truth will come out" said Delisa Perkins.

"I'm sure everybody is waiting and watching the news, and might try to go to court and see what's going on," said Dave Wright.

Some residents say the Malone case has hurt the community's trust in the police department. This trial could ease some of that tension.

"People got this phobia about Moss Point police department due to this reputation, even though it has allegedly did this. It's an everyday on going conversation," said Stephania Lamburt.

"It's very important with us being a small city, and having something like that happen, we have to be very careful," said Shanorna Hawthorne.

The trial is expected to take several days to complete, and contain testimony from at least a dozen witnesses.

Residents know, regardless of how the first trial ends, its verdict will affect Moss Point for years to come.