Cozzie Murder Trial Begins With Jury Selection - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Cozzie Murder Trial Begins With Jury Selection

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It was a murder that rocked the tiny beach town of Seagrove.

In June of 2011, 15 year old Georgia resident, Courtney Ann Wilkes was found dead off a nature trail in the South Walton beach community.

Nearly two years later, her accused killer, Steven Cozzie, heads to trial for first degree murder.

Jury selection began Monday. This is step one in a process that's taken nearly two years to the date.

Perhaps the most interesting and maybe damaging key to the defense is the sheer amount of people that have taken an interest in this case.

It was evident among the jurors. Of 70 people inside the courtroom, 53 admitted to having prior knowledge of this case. That's 75% of the original pool.

Keep in mind that the court is seeking a fair and impartial jury, so it makes proceedings more difficult when a great many have a preconceived idea about the case itself.

Ultimately, 17 people were dismissed for being unable to serve impartially.

23 year old Cozzie is charged with strangling, kidnapping, sexual battery and aggravated child abuse that prosecutors allege led to Wilkes' death.

She was on vacation with her family and was seen walking with Cozzie the morning of the day she was murdered.

Reports allege that Cozzie also showed a friend the teen's body.

Trial is expected to last a week and a half where the jury will determine if he is guilty of these crimes.

A first degree murder charge can lead either life in prison or possibly the death penalty if convicted by the jury selected Monday.

The honorable Judge Kelvin C. Wells is presiding over this trial.

Cozzie's Defense Attorneys are Sharon Wilson and Spiro Kypreos of Pensacola.

Bobby Elmore is representing the state from the office of district one State Attorney, Bill Eddins.