Jury selection began today in the murder trial of Kenneth Lee Morris, a 29-year-old transient who is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the beating death of a Lawrence man in August.
From a pool of 86 potential jurors, a 12-member jury with two alternates will be selected.
Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells began questioning potential jurors about 10:15 a.m., after Judge Michael Malone spoke to them for more than an hour. Jury selection was to continue this afternoon.
Morris is charged with breaking into the Lawrence residence where Danny Davis, 40, was staying and beating Davis, who was asleep, with a golf club on Aug. 8. Davis died Aug. 13 at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., from severe head wounds.
Morris' defense attorney, James Rumsey, had asked for individual questioning of jurors by both attorneys, Wells said, but that motion was denied by Malone.
At least three potential jurors of the initial 36 who were questioned were dismissed by Malone after they said they could not remain impartial in the case. At least 12 people said they had heard about the case through the news media or by word of mouth but said they could remain impartial.
Morris was arrested Aug. 16 in Phoenix on unrelated burglary charges. He was questioned on Aug. 17 by Lawrence police in Phoenix, and confessed to beating Davis. A motion to suppress the confession as evidence in Morris' trial was denied last week.