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Jury selection starts slowly in Jamal Smith trial

The alleged Hwy 169 shooter is on trial for first-degree murder, requiring meticulous individual jury questioning.

HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. — Only two jurors were seated for the trial of the alleged killer in last summer's deadly shooting on Highway 169 in the first day of jury selection.

Since Jamal Smith is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jay Boughton, individual jury questioning is required. It is a painstaking and meticulous process, even though all but one potential juror so far knew little or nothing about the case.

The case received a lot of media attention at the time, because Boughton was shot while driving his son home from a baseball game, and no one was arrested for several weeks despite public pleas for help finding the culprit.

Plymouth police eventually tracked down Smith after finding the light-colored SUV, tracing its use, and finding a video on Smith's Facebook page of him driving the vehicle while holding the alleged murder weapon. 

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office has yet to completely show its prosecution strategy, but defense attorneys point out that Smith is charged with both first-degree murder for a driveby shooting, and second-degree murder for aiding and abetting. Smith's attorneys speculate that the prosecution is trying to get a conviction whether they can prove Smith fired the shot or not.

That will be the biggest point of contention in the trial, as defense attorneys acknowledged in a court filing Tuesday that the deadly shot was fired from within the SUV Smith was driving. They claim it was one of the other two passengers who fired.

In a jailhouse interview with KARE 11's Lou Raguse, Smith claimed the backseat passenger fired the shot, yet at first he wasn't sure whether that was the case or whether someone else was shooting at them.

In Monday's hearing, a prosecutor said Boughton's son will testify about what he saw and heard — and that Smith was trying to get into Boughton's lane, and the coach honked his horn and "gave the bird" before getting shot in the head.

Judge Nicole Engisch initially said she hoped for opening statements to begin next Tuesday, but with the current pace of jury selection it could be later in the week.

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