Defendant's courtroom incident delays homicide trial
PRESCOTT – Jury selection for Homer Roseberry's first-degree murder trial ended abruptly when paramedics had to take him to the hospital.
Roseberry, 58, of Indiana, required medical attention, reportedly for a heart condition, shortly before noon Wednesday. Emergency personnel took him to Yavapai Regional Medical Center, where doctors treated and released him, providing him with antibiotics, an inhaler and cough syrup.
Roseberry is facing first-degree murder and drug-trafficking charges stemming from the shooting death of Fred Fottler, 45, in October 2000. According to court documents, Roseberry allegedly was involved in the theft of 1,300 pounds of marijuana. During that theft, someone shot Fottler in the back of the head three times with a .25-caliber pistol.
A motorist found Fottler's body on Highway 93, near Wikieup, last year. Investigators used fingerprint records to identify the body.
Yavapai County Superior Court Judge William Kiger excused about half of the potential jurors after the incident but asked about 35 of them to return this morning – in case Roseberry is physically able to proceed with the trial.
Kiger also excused a handful of jurors who were not willing to comply with the new death penalty sentencing statute. The court had to postpone Roseberry's previous trial date this summer after the Arizona Supreme Court deemed that the former death penalty sentencing statute was unconstitutional. Judges once decided if a convicted felon deserved the death penalty. Now, a jury must determine if the case comprises sufficient aggravating factors to justify the ultimate sanction.
The court could not conduct Roseberry's trial until legislators devised a method for the new sentencing structure. Jury selection began Wednesday morning, but several of the potential jurors did not feel they were able make the life-or-death decision.
The remaining jurors are to return to court this morning. Of the approximately 50 candidates, 15 will hear the case.
Roseberry appeared in court Thursday morning and told Kiger he was well enough to continue.
Contact C. Murphy Hébert at email@example.com or 445-8179, ext. 2037.