Death penalty trial underway

First Posted: 2/3/2015

LIMA — Jury selection began in a death penalty trial Tuesday for a man accused of killing two people in 2009 and setting a fire to cover it up.

Hager Church, 30, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated arson in the June 14, 2009, house fire that killed Massie “Tina” Flint, 45, and her boyfriend, Rex Hall, 54. The fire was at a house at 262 S. Pine St.

The court called 147 people to show as potential jurors. It was a long day for many as Judge Jeffrey Reed of Allen County Common Pleas Court spent a lot of time explaining courtroom procedure and trying to determine whether anyone had a conflict of interest, such as knowing an employee of the court.

The potential jurors were told about the charges against Church and the state’s allegations. Each charge was explained in detail and Reed said it was the prosecution’s burden to prove Church guilty with evidence such as testimony and exhibits.

Before jury selection began, several other potential jurors were excluded. Church’s lead attorney, Greg Meyers, said a sheriff’s detective told him he helped his wife fill out a juror questionnaire in a way to get out of jury duty. The matter ended with no further discussion and Reed dismissed the woman, who was not present.

Jury selection is scheduled for Friday. Potential jurors will return for individual questioning where they can be questioned about many aspects of their lives including whether they believe in the death penalty.

Church is serving a life sentence with no chance for parole for a separate case in 2010. He was convicted of beating a woman to death inside her home for a few dollars and costume jewelry.

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