Jury selection begins in Gates murder trial
HERNANDO – Jury selection began Monday in DeSoto County for the capital murder trial of Tula man Tim Gates.
In answer to a change of venue motion by defense attorney Joey Langston, Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Coleman ordered that the jury be selected from DeSoto County residents and sequestered in Oxford for the duration of the trial. Langston, a Booneville attorney, maintained in all pretrial hearings that, because of the publicity surrounding the case, his client could not get a fair trial in Lafayette County.
Gates, 37, is accused of murdering Lafayette County High School student James Scott Patterson and of shooting Patterson’s friend Jason Gossett on Dec. 1, 1994, as the two were checking on a rural cabin owned by Patterson’s father. Gossett has since recovered from his injuries and is now a senior at Lafayette County High School.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case. Gates shot the young men, according to the charges, for the purpose of robbing them. Former District Attorney Larry Little was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case and will be assisting current District Attorney Jim Hood.
As of late afternoon Monday, a jury had not yet been selected for the trial. Questioning of jurors should resume today.