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Teen on trial in teacher slaying

By Nancy Glasscock
nglasscock@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — A Lawrence County teenager accused of fatally beating Hatton Elementary School teacher Judy Jester for less than $10 will go on trial Tuesday in Lawrence County.

Twelve jurors and two alternates, selected Monday, were scheduled to arrive at the Lawrence County Courthouse at 9 a.m. for instructions, followed by opening statements from the defense and prosecution.

Demetrick Young is charged with capital murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison without possibility of parole. The U.S. Supreme Court in March 2005 outlawed executing juveniles who were younger than 18 at the time of the crime.

Young was 15 and an eighth-grader at Lawrence County High School in October 2005. He allegedly attacked and robbed Jester, 55, while she was working after school in the Lawrence County Family Education Center in Moulton.

Jester was found three or four hours after Young allegedly beat her unconscious. She never regained consciousness and died days later in the neuro-intensive care unit at Huntsville Hospital when her family gave doctors permission to remove life support.

There is no evidence Jester and Young knew each other before the incident, police said.

Circuit Judge Phillip Reich is presiding over the trial. He told jurors Monday not to discuss the case with anyone, including other jurors, until after the trial. He also told them to avoid media reports.

"All you need to know and all you need to consider will be presented here," Reich said.

Jury selection began with a pool of about 60 potential jurors and lasted most of the day Monday.

Decatur attorney John Mayes represents Young. Lawrence County District Attorney Jim Osborn is representing the state.

Young pleaded not guilty Feb. 7. He is the third teenager in Lawrence County to face capital murder charges since 2003.

In October 2006, Evan James Miller, then 14, was sentenced to life without parole and Colby Smith, then 16, was sentenced to life with a possibility for parole, both for the murder of Cole Cannon, 52, on July 15, 2003.

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