KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Sunday marked two years since a pair of Kissimmee police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. The man accused of gunning them down was in court on Monday as the jury selection in his murder trial gets underway.
Everett Miller is accused of killing Officer Matthew Baxter, 26, and Sergeant Sam Howard, 36, as the two were responding to a call of suspicious activity in Downtown Kissimmee. Miller was found hiding in a nearby bar.
Judge John Jordan, state prosecutors and Miller's defense team spent the day questioning potential jurors.
The first round of potential jurors dismissed were those who told the judge they were having trouble following the proceedings, due to English not being their first language.
Next, they asked about pre-trial publicity and those who would have a severe hardship if picked to serve on this jury. The judge warned potential jurors that the trial could take more than three weeks, and if Miller is found guilty, the penalty phase would be scheduled for mid-November.
Miller sat quietly between his attorneys at the defense table, seemingly paying close attention to the proceedings. He appeared to taking notes at times. Officer Baxter's wife Sadia sat in the courtroom all day. She had her sister and a close family friend at her side for support.
"I'm grateful for the continued love and support my family has gotten," Sadia said.
She did not feel comfortable talking about the proceedings. Instead, she made it clear this trial would be hard on her family and the Howards.
"Please keep my family and the Howard family in prayer as we enter the next few weeks. Thank you guys for your love and support," Sadia said.
About 76 more potential jurors will be brought in Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The judge will ask them about their ability to keep up with the trial, hardships and pre-trial publicity. On Friday the judge said, if they have a large enough pool of potential jurors, those that have been kept so far will be called back into the courtroom. At that point, he will begin to ask them their views on the death penalty.
Miller is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.