Jury seated in trial for murder of Alexus Rankins

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Jury selection has ended and opening statements are set to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday in the trial for the murder of 14-year-old Alexus Rankins.

The jury is made up of 5 women and 7 men.

Sean Newton is charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors say he shot and killed Rankins as she walked home from the movies in her Lake Charles neighborhood in March 2010.

Police say the shooting stemmed from gang violence and believe Rankins was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

7 News learned Tuesday that Sean Newton does not plan to testify during the trial. It is not known whether the other three defendants will testify, but based on comments made by their attorneys to perspective jurors, it does not appear likely.

On trial alongside Sean Newton is his younger brother Brandon, who is charged with inciting to riot, obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact,  and their parents, Rodney and Nina Newton, who are both accused of trying to help their sons get away with the crime.

Friends and family of the Newtons say they are innocent.

They are being represented by three different attorneys. Charles St. Dizier is the attorney for Sean Newton, Todd S. Clemons is the attorney Rodney and Nina Newton, and Thad Minaldi is the attorney for Brandon Newton.

All four defendants are on trial at the same time. Others who have also been indicted in the crime are expected to testify once the presentation of evidence begins.

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