Twelve jurors and three alternates were chosen just after noon Wednesday to hear the death penalty case against a 20-year-old accused of killing Bobby Tillman just after a Douglasville house party.
It took almost 2 1/2 weeks of questioning before hundreds of prospective jurors were whittled down to a pool of 48 who were “death penalty qualified,” meaning they were willing to consider all possile punishments — life with the possibility of parole, life without parole or death — should they convict Tracen Franklin of killing Tillman.
Four white women, three black women, seven white men and one black man were seated as the 12 jurors and three alternates. The alternates are not identified until deliberations begin.
Opening statements were expected Wednesday afternoon and the trial is expected to take several weeks.
Franklin is the only one of four young men accused to stomping and kicking Tillman to death just after midnight on Nov. 6, 2010. One of the four pleaded guilty to murder for throwing the first punch and was sentenced last spring to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years. The others have not been tried, but District Attorney David McDade is not pursuing the death penalty against them.
The randomness and brutality of Tillman’s death received national media coverage.
The party started out as a small celebration for two high school girls to celerate their good grades. Tillman, then a freshman at Georgia Perimeter College, was invited but came late, just as the parents of the girls shut down the gathering because the crowd had become too large and out of control.
Franklin and his three friends allegedly were caught up in the frenzy sparked by a fight between two girls on the lawn. That is when they allegedly spotted Tillman leaning on a car nearby and attacked him.