(Courtesy: Monroe County Buzz)
MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Jury selection is underway for the woman accused of killing former Monroe Co. Election Commission Chair Jim Miller just over two years ago. The court has set aside two days to find 12 jurors, as well as two alternates, who can remain impartial in this high profile case that occurred small town. Even after hearing the grisly details of Miller's killing, the majority of prospective jurors told the court they could remain impartial.
Prior to jury selection, defense attorneys for Jessica Kennedy asked the court for a continuance, claiming they have not had access to records. The judge declined the request as well as several more evidenciary objections and said the trial will go on.
One of the biggest hurdles for the defense will be a confession, Miller gave shortly after being arrested. Her attorneys now claim she has mental health issues and was forced to give a false confession. They asked potential jurors if they believed that was possible.
"There will be evidence that Ms. Kennedy used a lot of meth," her lawyer explained.
"Do not be overwhelmed by how gruesome this crime is," he continued before urging jurors to hold "the State to the fire" to prove Kennedy is guilty
Kennedy is accused of killing Miller in July 2010. Investigators found Miller's body inside the trunk of his burning car in Sweetwater, about eight miles from where he was last seen alive. State prosecutors say he was shot three times in the head and killed inside a house, then placed in his car.
Miller was a well-known and liked political figure in the county, and was called a self-made man.
"He loved to have fun and he loved people. That was his number one priority in life, was people and he talked to all kinds of people. He loved people. Didn't matter who you were, he had a good time and had a word to say," his widow, Vickie Miller, told Local 8 News in July 2011.
No one was charged until almost six months after his body was found.
On January 5, 2011, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested then 27 year-old Jessica Kennedy (also known as Jessica Kennedy Powers,) who was already being held at the Meigs County Jail on unrelated charges.
Kennedy was charged with Miller's murder, along with aggravated robbery, arson of personal property and the abuse of a corpse.
After a court hearing later in the month, Local 8 News asked Kennedy if she was guilty, and she said she wasn't. When we asked why she was arrested, she claimed she won't tell the police what happened because she was protecting her children.
Jim Miller's family told Local 8 News they believe more people besides Kennedy were involved in his murder, but they will continue to wait for the truth and keep his memory alive.
"I just pray that everybody that knew something, that was involved, that justice will be done for my father," said Miller's daughter, Mechelle Miller, in January 2011.