JURY SELECTION TO START MONDAY — Accused killer Robert W. Coffin stands at the podium today in Oneida County Court during pre-trial motions. The trial for Coffin, who is charged with shooting 25-year-old Thomas E. Shepherd III behind Sammy G’s bar on Woodrow Avenue last summer, is expected to begin Monday with jury selection. (Sentinel photo by Sean I. Mills)
Trial of accused killer set to begin Monday with jury selection
Jury selection begins Monday in County Court for accused killer Robert W. Coffin, who is charged with shooting 25-year-old Thomas E. Shepherd III behind Sammy G’s bar on Woodrow Avenue last summer.
Coffin, 36, of Rome, appeared before County Court Judge Robert L. Bauer this morning to wrap up several pre-trial legal matters. The trial is expected to last through the week.
Coffin is charged with one count each of second-degree murder and second-degree possession of a weapon, both
He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder.
Among the matters discussed this morning was whether or not Assistant District Attorney Michael Nolan, the prosecutor, could bring up Coffin’s previous criminal convictions during the trial. Coffin was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment in 2005 and served time behind bars between 2005 and 2013, when he was released on parole.
Judge Bauer ruled that Nolan could only ask Coffin if he had been convicted of a felony, but he could not ask for details on the case.
Nolan can also only ask about the prior convictions if Coffin takes the witness stand in his own defense — a decision the defense has not yet reached.
Authorities said Coffin shot Shepherd twice in the face while in the parking lot behind Sammy G’s bar on Woodrow Avenue shortly before 3:30 a.m. Aug. 19.
Authorities said Coffin shot Shepherd after Shepherd tried to intervene in an argument between Coffin and a woman in the parking lot.
Coffin went on the run for roughly two weeks following the shooting, authorities said.
He was picked up stepping off a bus in Las Vegas on Sept. 1.
“I think we have worked very hard gathering as much evidence as possible,” Nolan said after the hearing today in Oneida County Court.
“A gun was recovered during this case,” Nolan explained, and there is security camera footage of the shooting “that may come into evidence.”
The assistance district attorney declined to discuss specifics about any of the evidence that is expected to be presented at the impending trial.
Nolan also said there were several eye-witnesses to the crime who may be called to the stand, as well as law enforcement officers and several people from Las Vegas, where Coffin was taken into custody.
Coffin is represented by Public Defender Kurt Schultz, who was unavailable for comment following the hearing.
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