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Jury selected for Jamiel Shaw murder case

April 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Opening statements in the Jamiel Shaw murder trial are set to begin Monday. A jury in the case has now been seated, along with six alternate jurors.

Jury selection began Tuesday morning in the trial of Pedro Espinoza, who is accused in the March 2008 shooting death of Shaw, a highly-touted football player at Los Angeles High School.

The 12 jurors are comprised of six men and six women. Summoned to the court of Judge Ronald Rose, 160 prospective jurors filled out questionnaires that included questions about capital punishment and their knowledge on gangs.

"It will be up to them to decide whether he deserves the death penalty or not," prosecutor Bobby Grace said.

Once the trial begins, it is expected to last up to four weeks.

Shaw's family was present in the court room, and they say they hope the case will reignite the immigration debate as it did when Shaw was first killed.

Shaw, 17, was shot once in the head while on the sidewalk outside his home. Espinoza, a known gang member and undocumented immigrant, was 19 when he allegedly gunned down Shaw.

The crime sparked outrage from the community. Shaw was a star running back at Los Angeles High School who had led his team to a league title. He was also attracting scholarship attention from schools like Stanford and Rutgers at the time of his death.

Espinoza, who was brought to the U.S. as a toddler, had just been released from the Los Angeles County Jail on a gun charge the day before Shaw was killed. Shaw's family says if Espinoza had been deported because of his illegal status, Shaw would still be alive.

The family tried but failed to get a law passed that would allow police to arrest gang members if they are in the country illegally. However the Los Angeles Police Department has an established policy against stopping people based on their immigration status. The family will attempt to put the measure back up for a vote.

"With Jamiel's Law, it just specifies illegal alien gang members, they won't even support that," Jamiel Shaw Sr., the teen's father. "The illegal immigration thing is so messed up now...There's no reason not to go after gang members in the country [who are] illegally committing crime."

Jamiel Shaw Sr. plans to take the stand in the trial if called upon. He was at his son's side moments after he was shot. The teen's mother has served in Iraq and is on her way home from Texas.

Espinoza could face the death penalty if he is convicted.


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