Murder trial begins after two years of controversy


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s a day more than two years in the making.


After a long battle over what the jury should or shouldn’t hear, the Tracy Lawrence murder trial is finally starting.

Lawrence took a seat at the front of a Jackson courtroom Monday morning, settling in for what’s expected to be a long trial.


As a jury was selected, the events of June 8, 2016 were about to relived.


On that morning, the 54-year-old says he could see two men outside his house in Springport Township, trying to get into his truck and an out-building. 


According to police statements, he grabbed a rifle and yelled at the men to get off his property.


Lawrence claims the men ran toward him and he opened fire, killing Hunter Lentz and Matthew McMillen, both 18 year olds from Jackson.


His attorneys are claiming self-defense.


But prosecutors say the men were shot while running away and this is a murder case.


Hours before the shooting, Police say Lentz and McMillen were breaking into garages and stealing tools.


Investigators also found a hatchet and pry-bar near Lawrence’s house that belonged to the men.


The defense says this shows why the men were on Lawrence’s property.


Judge John McBain allowed the evidence to be presented in a subsequent trial.  


But prosecutors appealed, tying the case up in courts.


In February of this year, the appeals court sided with prosecutors, not allowing the jury to hear this evidence.


The court ruled that prior crimes have nothing to do with the murders and Lawrence had no way of knowing what the men were up to before the shooting.


A jury was selected today after five hours of questioning dozens of men and women.


The trial officially starts Tuesday morning with opening statements and then a full day of testimony.

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