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Trial to begin for man charged in elderly beating death

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the capital murder trial of a man accused of beating an elderly Hamlin woman to death inside a rural church she had attended for years.

WYNNE, Ark. (AP) — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the capital murder trial of a man accused of beating an elderly Hamlin woman to death inside a rural church she had attended for years.

Cross County prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Rene Bourassa Jr. if he is convicted of killing Lillian Wilson, 80, whose body was found June 6, 2010, by her pastor between two pews at Central United Methodist Church in Wynne. Bourassa has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities believe Wilson was bludgeoned by a brass cross. The woman had stopped at the church that day to pick up donation buckets that had been collected for storm victims.

Jury selection is expected to take about a week, which is typical in death penalty cases, prosecuting attorney Fletcher Long said.

An affidavit filed in Circuit Court alleges that Bourassa admitted killing Wilson after a U.S. Marshals Service task force arrested him June 10, 2010, in Bremerton, Wash. He was driving Wilson's car, which officials say had been spotted in Missouri before his arrest.

Investigators believe Bourassa was driving through the Wynne area when his vehicle broke down near the church, but authorities haven't said what Bourassa's motive may have been.

A message left at the state Public Defender's Commission seeking comment on Bourassa's behalf wasn't immediately returned Sunday.

 

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