After heated selection process, judge chooses jurors

Published: Jul. 24, 2013 at 1:39 AM CDT
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Testimony for the Hattiesburg Mayoral Election Challenge begins at 9 in the morning in the case of Dave Ware versus Johnny DuPree. A jury of 7 whites and 5 blacks were seated today after the selection process took longer than expected.

The Hattiesburg Mayoral Election Challenge trial was initially presumed to highlight voter irregularities, until race was brought up. This happened when DuPree attorney Precious Martin took the floor, saying the initial jury selection was racially motivated after the Ware team struck all but one black potential juror, but the Ware camp disagreed.

"Almost every one of those persons had some kind of connection, employment with the city, or close personal friends with Mr. DuPree," said Michael Reed, Ware attorney.

After a successful challenge for the DuPree team, the final juror outcome ended up resulting in 7 white residents, and 5 black residents. Judge Coleman said both sides prejudicially struck mostly black and white jurors. The final jury makeup is 1 black male, 4 black females, 2 white males, and 5 white females.

10 jurors live in Forrest County, and two live in Lamar County. Potential witnesses expected to testify range from one 18-year-old who publicly alleged someone working for the DuPree campaign voted in his place, to Jeff Hammond, who is the former Athletic Director of Southern Miss.

After the jury selection, Mayor DuPree and Dave Ware shook hands and patted each other on the back in a friendly exchange.

The outcome of the trial goes into the hands of 12 jurors beginning on Wednesday morning.

Watch the trial live on