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Jury selected for trial of former police officer Nouman Raja

Posted at 10:48 AM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-07 10:14:17-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-- Attorneys for defendant Nouman Raja and state prosecutors have selected a jury.

A jury of 6 and 4 alternates will begin listening to closing arguments Tuesday morning. Raja is being tried on charges of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder.

He is accused of shooting and killing Corey Jones, 31, on October 18, 2015 on the off-ramp of I-95 and PGA Boulevard.

The trial has been a controversial one for the community because Jones was broken down off the side of the road in the pre-dawn hours and was on the phone with roadside assistance. There are questions surrounding whether or not Raja, who was working a burglary detail in plain clothes, ever identified himself to Jones.

Jones had a gun with him, but it was never fired.

State Prosecutor Adrienne Ellis drilled jurors with questions about race and told them Corey Jones was a black man. She asked jurors if when they learned he was shot by an officer if it made them feel as though he probably did something wrong.

"To me, a cop's gun doesn’t come out for no reason," said a juror.

Another juror referenced previous shootings involving young black men and police officers.

"My initial thought was, 'oh here we go again, another black guy got shot' and it’s not that he did something wrong, it’s why is this all of a sudden happening again?" said the juror.

A teacher sitting in the jury pool questioned why is race the center of the focus?

"Without offending anyone, one kid is dead and the police officer shot. I think that's what we are here to do and to find out what happened, not because he was black," she said.

"People have a tendency to make judgments," said Prosecutor Ellis.

"But you are making a judgment, just telling us that he was black [no] because I did have students who are black and they were, a few, the best ones I had. I had a Scandinavian one that was terrible," said the teacher as the room broke out in laughter.

Defense attorney Richard Lubin echoed the topic of race asked by the prosecution team and questioning jurors about what they thought of the prosecutor's line of questioning.

"Did you pick up on that, did you think that's what she was saying that she was suggesting somehow this was a racial incident?" asked Lubin.

Lubin started his discussion asking jurors, what's worse, convicting an innocent person or letting a guilty one go free.

"Anybody want to convict an innocent man in this group?" asked Lubin

Lubin also spent some time talking about the credibility of witnesses, which the judge says he will issue jurors instructions on. On Monday the state filed a motion to prevent the defense team from calling on three medical examiners. The state says the testimony will get repetitive, especially since all three witnesses said in depositions that Jones could have traveled up to 40 yards after being shot in the heart.