BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A story that heated things up in Brunswick County years ago comes back to life Monday as jury selection begins in the death penalty case of the State of North Carolina versus Carl Alston.
Alston was charged with first degree kidnapping, first degree rape, and first degree murder after the body of 49-year-old Valerie Burns was found in the trunk of her car off Goodland Road in 2008. An autopsy report showed burns died from smoke inhalation.
Neighbors at the time reported hearing explosions as the car went up into flames on Goodland Road. They also said Burns was a quiet woman who rarely came outside but she did, however, have a younger male who frequently visited her home.
Alston faces death if convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Valerie Burns.
According to Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David, the last time someone was facing death in Brunswick County was in 2006.
That case, was where the nicknamed "cop killer" Darrell Maness was sentenced to death for killing Boiling Spring Lakes police officer Mitch Prince.
David called that case "sensational" because at the very last minute, eight jurors decided they wanted to give the death penalty to Maness rather than life in prison. Former District Attorney, Rex Gore, said he had never seen so many jurors change their minds at the last minute.
David said the court has called more than 200 people as prospective jurors in Alston's trial, adding it could be weeks before that number is whittled down to the final 12 jurors and 3 to 4 alternates.
He says the actual trial should begin sometimes in early April.
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