Jury selection begins in murder case
by Kellen Moore
Sargent stands accused in the 2005 murder of Stephen Harrington, a 19-year-old Appalachian State University student from Raleigh.
Harrington was found with his face duct-taped and his body partially burned in the trunk of his Subaru on Sleepy Hollow Lane in Foscoe on Nov. 8, 2005. Harrington died of asphyxiation from the duct tape over his mouth and nose, according to the medical examiner's analysis.
Sargent is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and burning of personal property. He was found guilty of those charges in 2008 but successfully appealed, resulting in the new trial this week.
Kyle Quentin Triplett, 28, and Matthew Brandon Dalrymple, 27, also were convicted in connection to the murder. Either or both may be called upon to testify.
Sargent's appeal rose to the N.C. Supreme Court, which confirmed that the trial court had erred by not allowing a 2007 statement by Triplett to be entered as evidence. They agreed with the Court of Appeals that Sargent should be granted a new trial.
At the start of the trial Monday, Judge James Downs heard two brief motions from Sargent's attorney, Mark Killian of Hickory, before moving to the painstaking process of jury selection.
Assistant District Attorney Britt Springer questioned the potential jurors about their jobs, relationships to other jurors, whether they knew any of the possible witnesses and whether they could examine graphic evidence.
She asked whether the jurors watch police and legal dramas such as CSI or Law and Order, explaining that the techniques used in those types of entertainment programs are not accurate.
"Everybody agrees that they're not going to hold the state to a CSI level?" Springer asked.
Sargent sat quietly during the proceedings, occasionally glancing back into the courtroom and mouthing words to a person in the audience.
Downs said he expected the trial to continue through this week, next week and possibly into a third week. If convicted, Sargent may face a sentence of life in prison without parole.