MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Inside the Marion County courthouse, 21-year-old Michael Bargo looked relaxed and even smiled as jury selection started in the murder case against him.
Bargo was just 18 when investigators say he masterminded the 2011 killing of 15-year-old Seath Jackson over a dispute about a girlfriend.
They said he and four other young people lured Jackson to a Summerfield home, beat him, shot
him, dismembered his body and burned the remains.
The brutal nature of the case brought national attention. The judge was concerned Monday about pre-trial publicity.
"In the front row of the
audience, a show of hands: anyone who knows anything about the case?" asked Circuit Court Judge David Eddy.
Many potential jurors said they had heard something about the case.
"Have you formed any definite opinion in this case in regards to whether Mr. Bargo is guilty?" Eddy asked.
"Yes, sir. I believe Mr. Bargo is guilty," said a potential juror.
The judge excused several of the potential jurors immediately.
The four other co-defendants have been convicted and are serving life sentences.
As the accused mastermind, Bargo is facing the death penalty if convicted.
A jury has not been selected yet, a court official said. Court adjourned Monday at 4:45 p.m.