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Jury selection takes center stage during hearing for former police officer Nouman Raja

Posted: 8:00 PM, Jan 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-07 10:14:16-05
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PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja appeared in court Friday for a hearing in the 2015 shooting of Corey Jones on Interstate 95.

Raja is accused of killing Jones after the musician's car broke down on the Interstate.

He's charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence while armed, as well as attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.

On Friday, Raja's attorneys said they withdrew a motion to have one of the charges against him dropped.

Also on Friday, the prosecution and defense talked about questioning potential jurors about pre-trial publicity. They discussed what questions they should ask potential jurors to find out what they know about the case.

At a hearing last week, a judge said he's called for 200 potential jurors.

On Friday, the judge said his courtroom fits 177 people, and foresees a challenge to fit family members, jurors, the media, and members of the public. There is already discussion about crowd control.

Judge Joseph Marx also expressed concerns about the support the case has garnered on both sides. "My concern that supporters for the state may be wearing types of shirts, insignias, things of those sorts and on this side, defense having a room full of folks in uniform," said Judge Marx.

Jones's father, Clinton Jones, commented about the judge's concern over the potential display of support in the courtroom from family and friends wearing shirts showing Corey's picture or a message.

"We're going to respect that, but on the outside of the courtroom, we don't have any control over that," said Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones also said he felt relieved that the defense withdrew its motion to dismiss one of the charges against Raja. He said the family is getting ready for trial.

"It's been four years man, it's time. It's time for some justice. It's time to get what we need, get this over with, so we can have some peace," said CJ Jones, Corey's brother.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office said Raja, who was a police officer at the time of the shooting, approached Jones’s vehicle in an unmarked van, dressed in plainclothes, but never identified himself as an officer.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: FBI releases animation of Corey Jones killing | Photos, audio released in Corey Jones case | Witness recalls hearing gunshot

Last June, a judge denied Raja's attempt to use the Stand Your Ground defense.

Raja's trial is expected to begin on Feb. 22.

The state expects the trial to last three weeks, including jury selection. The defense believes it will run four weeks.