17 Year-Old Murder Case Begins with Jury Selection in Levelland - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/9/02

17 Year-Old Murder Case Begins with Jury Selection in Levelland

Jury selection began on Monday morning in a Hockley County courtroom in the murder trial of 40 year-old Robert Sharp. Sharp's son, Matthew, died in 1985. Sharp says he was trying to stop Matthew from crying by bouncing him on his knees but the baby had a seizure.

At the time, Matthew's death was ruled a homicide, but no charges were filed. Prosecutors believed they did not have enough evidence to convict Sharp. But in January, prosecutors exhumed the baby's body and another autopsy has now led to murder charges against Matthew's father.

On Monday, both Defense Attorney Jack Stoffregen and prosecutors, Matt Powell and Brian Kingston with the Lubbock District Attorney's office, took four hours before they picked 12 members of the jury. Eight men and four women will decide the fate of Sharp, the man accused of murdering his three month-old son.

In this 17 year-old case, the prosecution will try and prove Sharp allegedly lied about how Matthew died. On the other side, the defense will try and prove it was a terrible accident.

So far, the prosecution has heard testimony from Matthew's mother, Lisa Copeland from Carson City, Nevada, Hockley and Cochran County District Attorney Gary Goff, and one member of the grand jury that indicted Sharp in February of this year.

Hockley and Cochran County DA Gary Goff is a witness to this case because in 1985, he was a part time minister prior to becoming a DA. Goff says that Sharp had asked him to pray for Matthew in the hospital when the baby was in critical condition. Goff says he felt he could not prosecute this case because of personal ties and therefore recused himself. District Judge Andy Kupper assigned Powell and Kingston to the murder case.

Stoffregen says his client, Robert Sharp, is anxious to take the stand and most likely will. The trial is expected to last until Thursday. The defense says they will be presenting evidence for the next couple of days.

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