Jury selection begins for murder trial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

JACKSON – Under the direction of Chief Superior Court Judge Cy Grant Sr., jury selection began here yesterday (Monday) in the capital murder trial of Todd Clanton of Weldon.

Clanton is one of two men charged in the 2002 slaying of Garysburg convenience store owner John Hicks. A second man allegedly involved in the murder, Willie Forrest III of Raleigh, remains jailed awaiting his trial.

Last week, District 6B Attorney Valerie Mitchell-Asbell said she is seeking the death penalty against both men.

Per Judge Grant’s instructions, attorneys on both sides were not allowed to speak with the media. Therefore, it is not known how long it will take to seat the 12-member jury and two alternates.

Hicks was murdered about 5 p.m. Sept. 24, 2002 when the two men allegedly forced their way into his home, shooting him four times in an attempt to get him to tell them the whereabouts of money he had in the home. After refusing to tell the two thieves where his money was hidden, one of suspects apparently tortured Hicks by shooting him in the leg and hip in an attempt to get to the cash.

However, before Hicks could tell the suspects where the money was, he was murdered, the fatal wound coming during a gunshot to his chest area.

Mrs. Hicks told the thieves where the money was hidden and the two assailants took it and fled to a waiting car.

The targets of a statewide manhunt, the two suspects were eventually arrested, both coming over a one-week stretch in October.

Forrest was captured Oct. 9, 2002 by Raleigh police officers after he attempted to flee by using a knife to take his aunt as a hostage.

Clanton was captured, without incident, on Oct. 16, 2002 in a Wilmington housing project. He was arrested after the Wilmington Police Department received a complaint from Clanton’s roommate concerning theft of personal property.