By Libby Cluett
PALO PINTO – State and defense attorneys start meeting with a jury pool of 200 summoned Palo Pinto County citizens today to select 12 for the county's first capital murder case in many years.
Mark Emmons McLaughlan, 33, stands trial next week after he was charged with capital murder after the September 2005 death of 2-year-old Cayson Reese Mosley, of Perrin.
According to past Index reports, McLaughlin, the child's babysitter, told investigators the 2-year-old was injured in an accidental fall that occurred sometime on Sept. 19 at a residence in Tuck's Mobile Home Park on Farm-to-Market Road 1195. The child died days later at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death as “homicide by blunt force trauma.”
McLaughlin will face a jury in the 29th District Court presided by Judge Jerry Ray. In today's organizational meeting jurors will complete a questionnaire and will be instructed to not read or listen to news media until the trial ends. On Monday, they will return for the beginning of voir dire – the jury-selection process when prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases.
Palo Pinto County District Attorney Mike Burns said he inherited the case when he became district attorney nearly two years ago. He said that when a forensic case like this comes up, which relies on scientific evidence and expert witnesses, it is not only costly but time consuming for this rural jurisdiction which “handles a huge caseload.”
“The [office of the] Attorney General is prosecuting because I asked them to,” he said, adding that the county is sharing trial costs with the state. “Capital cases [present] an enormous cost to a jurisdiction. This [AG] unit is designed to help rural counties. It's the kind of case that requires resources they have. It is beyond the resources of the county.”
200 prospective jurors summoned to district court today.
By Libby Cluett
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