Jury selected in ‘House of Horrors’ murder trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A jury of 12 and three alternates made up of 11 white women, three white men and one black man will decide the fate of Russell Tillis.

Tillis is facing the death penalty if convicted in the murder of Joni Gunter.

Gunter’s dismembered body was found buried in Tillis’ yard on the south side in 2016.

His trial was delayed for years through motions mostly filed by Tillis and requests for new lawyers.

Tillis has gone through as many as 10 attorneys, often claiming he was unsatisfied with their work.

Jury selection for the trial took two full days.

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Tillis obtained a specific lawyer for jury selection.

She is known to use what is called the Colorado method. Her questions mostly focused on if a juror would vote life or death in sentencing.

The prosecution focused more on jurors who may have been a victim in a violent crime.

Tillis has a lengthy violent criminal history going back to the 1980s, including serving time for child abuse.

In jury selection, some potential jurors indicated a violent repeat offender might make them lean more towards a death sentence, while others said their religious beliefs would keep them from recommending a death sentence no matter how heinous the crime.

This same jury will have to decide if convicted if Tillis will serve a life or death sentence.

A death sentence recommendation must be unanimous.

A judge will then make the final sentencing decision.