BY SEAN I. MILLS
Jury selection began this morning in the murder trial of Robert W. Coffin, accused of gunning down another man behind Sammy G’s bar.
Coffin, 36, of Rome, is charged with one count each of second-degree murder and second-degree possession of a weapon, both felonies.
He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder.
A total of 60 Oneida County residents packed into the Utica courtroom of Judge Robert L. Bauer this morning for jury selection. Bauer, along with Assistant District Attorney Michael Nolan, the prosecutor, and Public Defender Kurt Schultz,
questioned the prospective jurors in an attempt to weed out anyone with a valid reason not to serve on the jury.
Jury selection lasted through the morning, with a panel of 12 expected to be seated by this afternoon. Opening statements in the trial were also expected to be heard this afternoon.
Authorities said Coffin shot 25-year-old Thomas E. Shepherd III 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.
The trial is expected to last through the week.