Final jury selection begins

Pool of 55 to be winnowed to 12 today for Forster murder trial

Posted: Monday, May 23, 2005

After four days of questioning candidates, a pool of 55 potential jurors was developed Friday, paving the way for final jury selection today in the murder trial of David Forster, the man accused of killing a Kenai police officer 1 1/2 years ago.

Forster is charged with fatally shooting Officer John Watson on Christmas 2003.

Superior Court Judge Donald Hopwood, Kenai District Attorney June Stein and Anchorage defense attorney John Murtagh spent most of last week paring down a list of 120 jury candidates and will begin individual qualifying this morning.

The attorneys are then expected to present opening statements this afternoon in the Kenai court.

Forster is accused of killing Watson late Christmas night after Watson went to Forster's residence on Watergate Way in the Kenai VIP Subdivision in response to an Alaska State Trooper request for help in checking on the welfare of a person.

At first, Watson reported that Forster's vehicle was not at the residence, but as Watson was leaving, he saw the suspect vehicle drive past him.

He turned around and stopped the vehicle in Forster's driveway, and a female companion of Forster's asked if she could take two dogs from the vehicle into the residence. Watson allowed her to do so.

A few minutes later, he radioed to police dispatch that he needed assistance.

According to troopers, it is believed Forster acted aggressively toward Watson, a struggle broke out and Forster managed to obtain Watson's service weapon, a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

It is believed two shots were fired, one of which struck Watson in the head, killing him.

Forster then allegedly walked into the residence, where the female took the gun from him.

Backup Kenai police and troopers responded to the residence and remained in a standoff with what was believed to be an armed subject inside the residence until 1:07 a.m., when Forster surrendered without incident.

Shortly after the standoff began, the female ran from the residence unharmed.

Forster is charged with one count of first-degree murder and four counts of third-degree assault.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks, according to the attorneys in the case.



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