Jury selection begins in Pavatt murder trial

Tuesday, August 26th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Jury selection began Monday in the trial of an insurance salesman accused of murdering his alleged lover's husband.

Fourteen prospective jurors in the case of James Pavatt were dismissed after being questioned by Oklahoma County District Judge Susan Bragg. Of the initial 30 prospective jurors questioned, only two had no knowledge of the highly publicized case.

Pavatt and Brenda Andrew, 39, the victim's estranged wife, are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Rob Andrew. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 12.

Officials expect jury selection to last most of this week. Testimony could last two or more weeks.

Bragg denied a motion from the defense Monday to have the Andrews' two children disqualified as potential witnesses. Pavatt's attorneys, Mike Arnett and Justin Lowe, argued the children -- 10-year-old Tricity and 7-year-old Parker -- were not listed as potential witnesses until Aug. 12.

Bragg also denied a defense motion asking that the trial be moved out of Oklahoma County. Arnett and Lowe said publicity about the case, particularly statements from the children, had tainted the jury pool.

Brittney Woldridge was one of 44 in all who were questioned Monday. She was dismissed after telling Bragg she had a preconceived opinion about Pavatt's involvement.

When asked if she could put her opinion aside and base a verdict solely on the evidence, Woldridge said, "After looking at him in this room, I don't think so. I already have that idea."

The 12-person jury and two alternates will be chosen from a pool of 100.

Rob Andrew, a 39-year-old Oklahoma City advertising executive, was gunned down Nov. 20, 2001, in the garage of a house where he had lived with his wife and their two children. He died from two 16-gauge shotgun blasts.

Brenda Andrew, who received a superficial .22-caliber gunshot wound to her arm, told police two masked men shot them.

Prosecutors say Brenda Andrew and Pavatt killed Rob Andrew for $800,000 in insurance money.

The two aroused suspicion when they did not attend Rob Andrew's funeral and fled to Mexico with her two children. They were arrested three months later, on Feb. 28, 2002, in Hidalgo, Texas, as they tried to re-enter the United States.