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Jury selection continues in murder trial

JACKSON -- Jury selection began Tuesday in Jackson County District Court for the trial of 39-year-old Tyron Collins, who was indicted for first-degree murder after allegedly stabbing his brother to death at the Colonial Manor Nursing Home in Lakefield on June 10, 2010.

According to the criminal complaint, Collins was involved in a verbal altercation with his brother, who worked at the nursing home.

After the alleged stabbing, Collins fled the scene on foot then drove off in his vehicle.

He was captured after a Worthington police officer spotted the vehicle and pursued Collins, who eventually wrecked the car after going through a stop sign and landing in a ditch.

During a plea hearing held in late April, Collins turned down the agreement he had been offered, which would have had him pleading to a second-degree murder charge.

During the hearing, Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Al Zdrazil stated Collins had contacted him more than once to ask if he could plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

"I told him in no uncertain terms it was never a consideration," Zdrazil said.

Eighty citizens were called in to start the voir dire process, in which each prospective juror is questioned individually.

Each person had already filled out a questionnaire regarding certain aspects of the case, and a copy was provided to both the prosecution and defense.

Jurors were asked about their schedule, physical concerns and any knowledge they have on anyone on the witness list.

Judge Linda Titus asked the jurors if they knew Collins, any of the attorneys involved or any of the other jurors.

They were also asked if they had friends or relatives in law enforcement, or had ever been the victim of a violent crime.

When asked what he had heard about the case, one man said several people had told him the case was pretty "cut and dried" against Collins and admitted he had read newspaper accounts of the murder and subsequent hearings.

That juror was dismissed.

The selection process is expected to take most of the week. The trial is scheduled to last through May 27.