SHELBY Opening arguments are expected to begin Thursday afternoon in the trial of Donald Borders, charged with the 2003 rape and murder of a 79-year-old woman.
The selection of 12 jurors and two alternates was completed late Wednesday afternoon.
If found guilty, Borders, 54, of Cherryville, faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Hes charged with the rape and murder of Margaret Tessneer, one of three elderly Shelby women found dead in their beds, with doors unlocked and phone lines cut or yanked out.
An autopsy showed Tessneer was badly bruised. Officials said the number and color of the bruises indicated a struggle, but they couldnt determine the cause of death. The other two deaths were listed as natural in autopsy reports.
After the jury and two alternates were picked on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Richard Boner denied a motion for a change of venue by Borders lawyer, David Teddy.
Teddy has contended that Borders cant get a fair trial in Cleveland County because of intense publicity about the case. He cited a recent series about the mysterious deaths of the three women that appeared in the Shelby Star, saying the reports tainted the jury pool. The stories linked Tessneers death to the other women, he said.
On Wednesday, Teddy told Bonner that his client was entitled to a hearing on the motion to hold the trial outside the county and that Borders rights had been violated.
The jury selection process began Monday and has moved slowly, with questions focusing on how much potential jurors had been exposed to the case in the media.
When the first jury pool of 36 people was exhausted Boner announced another pool of 66 people was coming in.
Teddy renewed his efforts for a change of venue, citing a series of Twitter feeds from the courtroom onto the Shelby Stars website. Also, he mentioned that a number of people questioned as potential jurors had indicated they couldnt be fair and that they were representative of the community.
But Boner said a lot of jurors didnt have a clue this case existed.
He instructed jurors and alternates to be back at the courtroom by 1:45 p.m. on Thursday. The trial is expected to go into next week or longer.