Prosecutors are basing the homicide case against Lucille Duncan on the testimony of her son, 14-year-old Jeremiah Robertson.
Lucille Duncan is charged in Boone County Circuit Court with the first-degree murder of James Pruitt and one count of armed criminal action.
Gerald Alan Duncan, Lucille Duncan’s brother, also was charged separately with first-degree murder and one count of armed criminal action. He is scheduled to begin trial April 20.
The homicide trial, State of Missouri v. Lucille Faith Duncan, began Tuesday in Judge Ellen Roper’s courtroom. Jan King and Andy Scholz, public defenders from Jefferson City, represent the defendant. Kevin Crane and Dan Knight are the prosecuting attorneys.
The attorneys selected the jury, five men and seven women, on Tuesday. The jury heard opening statements from Knight and King, followed by testimony of five of the prosecution witnesses.
Bob Brown, investigator at the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, presented most of the physical evidence in the case.
Police found Pruitt’s body in the woods off Gleason Road south of Columbia the morning of July 5, 2003.
Police said Gerald Duncan shot Pruitt in the back of the head in Lucille Duncan’s car. Lucille Duncan was driving the car, and Gerald Duncan and Robertson were in the backseat, police said. Pruitt was sitting in the front passenger seat directly in front of Gerald Duncan.
In the prosecution’s opening statements, Knight said the state made a deal with the 14-year-old to testify against his mother and his uncle.
Robertson was first charged as a juvenile with two counts of tampering with physical evidence. Robertson was later certified as an adult, meaning he could face charges of first- or second-degree murder, the defense said.
Robertson agreed to testify against his mother and his uncle in the case in exchange for a recommendation to the state for him to receive probation for charges, Knight said.
Through phone calls and letters from jail, Lucille Duncan has pressured her son not to testify against her, Knight also said.
Lucille Duncan has denied any involvement in the murder, Knight said. She said she was framed, but when her brother and son incriminated her, she said it was an accident, he said.
King, the defense attorney, said in his opening statements that Lucille Duncan was unaware of what was going to happen the night of July 4.
The question he said the jury has to decide in the case was whether Lucille Duncan knew that Gerald Duncan would shoot Pruitt that night.
King said Lucille Duncan encouraged Gerald Duncan and Robertson to exercise their right to remain silent.
He said Robertson is only testifying against his mother out of fear that he would be prosecuted.