Jury selection plays major role in 3rd murder trial for Ross

Tuesday marks the beginning of a third trial for Cole Douglas Ross. His first trial in 2011 ended in a hung jury.

He was later convicted of murder and arson in Graves County Circuit Court in 2012. The Kentucky Supreme Court overturned that conviction last year.

Ross is accused of killing Keith Colston and burning his trailer in Melber, Kentucky, in October 2009. In some of the old video footage, you see the middle section of the mobile home completely charred. The case was overturned for five reasons.

One reason in the document from the Kentucky Supreme Court says there was no real reason for striking two women from the last jury. Some of Hargrove’s comments, like “I picked the jurors I thought that I like,” led to court’s belief that Ross’ right to due process and equal protection under the law were violated.

It was her first time speaking to us Tuesday, but Ross’ mother, Marie Vowell, has been in a courtroom many times. She says she hopes a different jury will deliver a different verdict. “It all comes down to the jury, and I pray every day for six years that God put his hands on this situation and for my son to come home,” Vowell said.

It all comes down to the jury, which is why prosecutor David Hargrove and defender James Burkeen are being so careful choosing one. After all, striking jurors was one of the things that led to the state Supreme Court’s decision to have a new trial.

To repeat this trial, Hargrove says he is “very frustrated, because all of the evidence was good. They upheld every bit of the evidence.”

The Supreme Court says Hargrove’s decision to fill two jury seats with men rather than women wasn’t fair. In court, he said women are “sometimes harder on women,” and he has a key female witness in the case. Hargrove says he’s grown since the last trial, but “that’s what you do with juror strikes. You strike jurors you don’t think are going to be favorable to your case.”

He’s also optimistic about trial three, even though it’s been four years. He says he’s gone over everything with witnesses and, although he’s relying on memory, he says it’s still fresh.

I spoke to a key witness who claims they still remember the day of the murder well. Although it’s been four years since their testimony, they claim to remember it like it was yesterday.

A jury has been selected. The judge says it could last up to five days. 

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