Opening statements to start in Ark. soldier death

By Jeannie Nuss

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, July 20 2011 1:05 a.m. MDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Jurors are expecting opening statements in the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a soldier outside a military recruiting station in Little Rock.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will each get an hour Wednesday to lay out their cases in the capital murder trial of 26-year-old Abdulhakim Muhammad.

Muhammad confessed to killing 23-year-old Pvt. William Andrew Long and wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, saying the 2009 shootings were in retaliation for U.S. military action in the Middle East.

Jury selection ended Tuesday evening after 12 jurors and two alternates were chosen. They'll likely hear defense attorneys argue that Muhammad is mentally ill, which Muhammad and prosecutors deny.

If convicted, Muhammad could be sentenced to death.

Muhammad was born Carlos Bledsoe in Tennessee, and changed his name after converting to Islam.

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