Murder trial to begin after 2 yearsPublished 10:25pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The capital murder trial of Cedric Floyd is scheduled to begin with jury selection Monday, more than two years after the suspect was arrested in connection with the shooting death of Atmore resident Tina Roshell Jones.
Escambia County Circuit Clerk John Robert Fountain said approximately 500 prospective jurors have been summoned and he expects the process of actually selecting the jury to take the better part of a week, considering a death sentence is a possibility in the case.
Floyd has spent more than two years detained in the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton, before being transferred to Kilby Prison, after being arrested in 2011 for allegedly shooting Jones to death in her home on 5th Avenue. Investigators in the case have said they believe Jones was in a “dating” relationship with Floyd at the time of her death.
In November 2012, the Escambia County district attorney’s office was dismissed from the case, following allegations of improper contact with documents in Floyd’s cell during a 24-hour period the suspect was on the run after escaping the Brewton jail. Floyd was captured in Pensacola one day after his escape.
In a ruling two weeks after the escape, Escambia County Circuit Judge Bert Rice said he saw “no impropriety” on the part of the district attorney’s office, but removed the members from the case.
“I see no violation or prejudice at this point to the defendant,” Rice said. “However, if (the case against Floyd) gets as far as sentencing, these prior cases could be raised. With these assistant district attorneys involved, there could be a prejudice for the client. Therefore this court makes the ruling that the district attorney’s office no longer be the prosecutorial attorneys in these cases.”
In March, Rice revoked a previous probation held by Floyd after he was convicted on charges of rape, sodomy and criminal mischief, all in the first degree, and sentenced him to a 15-year term in prison, with time already served taken into account.
Last month, Floyd’s attorneys filed a change of venue motion, arguing their client could not receive a fair trial in Escambia County, due to extensive media coverage, but Rice dismissed the motion until a jury could be struck. Rice told the attorneys that changing the venue for the trial likely would not happen — unless potential jurors questioned in the selection process indicated that a fair and impartial conclusion could not be made in the case against Floyd.
Floyd’s case has been continued a number of times, but, in August, Rice said it would begin in September.
“We will not be constrained by time,” Rice said. “This case will be tried Sept. 16 and we will not be confined to a two-week trial in this case. If there are any problems in this case, I want to know as soon as possible so that we don’t get to the eve of the trial and have problems.”