After a full day of questioning, a jury was selected late Monday in suspected serial killer Bruce Mendenhall’s murder for hire trial.
The panel of 12, which includes five white males, six white females and one black female plus a white male alternate, will begin hearing testimony Tuesday morning in the case against the 58-year-old Illinois truck driver.
Prosecutors claim that Mendenhall, while incarcerated for the June 2007 murder of a 25-year-old white Ashland City woman whose body was found dumped at a north Nashville truck stop, asked fellow inmates to arrange the deaths of five witnesses including two Metro police detectives.
Because of the intense media attention Mendenhall has received since his July 2007 arrest, 40 potential jurors were each carefully screened through a two-step process for prior bias or knowledge of the crime.
Judge Steve Dozier warned the jury pool that the trial would likely last at least several days.
He faces five counts of solicitation of first-degree murder in this case.
But the murder for hire trial is just the first of multiple trials for the man police suspect in a string of murders along the Interstate 24 corridor.
After Mendenhall’s 2007 arrest, law enforcement agencies across the country began contacting Nashville investigators to find out if he could be a suspect in unsolved murders in other areas.
Reports indicate that the FBI has been creating a timeline of Mendenhall’s travels during his 20-year career as a trucker to determine if he’s a suspect in other cases.
Mendenhall has been indicted on murder charges in Tennessee, Alabama and Indiana and is suspected in dozens more cases.
In neighboring Wilson County, he was indicted in the murder of Symantha Winters, a 48-year-old Nashville woman whose body was found stuffed in a trashcan at a Lebanon truck stop.
Mendenhall's Davidson County murder trial is scheduled to begin May 10, 2010.