Amerson’s 2014 mugshot, courtesy of the Sanford Police Department.

UPDATE: The Rant is told that jury selection may take most if not all of the coming week, meaning the trial’s opening statements are further off than initially reported in this story.

ORIGINAL STORY: After a delay of nearly two years, opening arguments in the trial for a man accused of killing a West Lee Middle School student in 2014 will move forward next week.

Pierre Amerson of Sanford could face the death penalty if found guilty of the March 2014 shooting of 15-year-old Thomas “Junior” Dolby Jr. on Pineland Street in Sanford. Jury selection in the case began this week and will continue into Monday.

The case has seen its share of delays since the arrest more than five years ago. Most recently, a defense motion in March of 2018 asking for more time for an expert witness to prepare testimony was granted. At the same time, Sanford attorney Fred Webb – one of Amerson’s two attorneys at the time – withdrew from the case, citing a conflict with one of the state’s potential witnesses.

Amerson is now represented by Emilia Beskind and Stephen Freedman, both of Durham. Assistant District Attorneys Mike Beam and Chris Autry are prosecuting.

After the shooting in 2014, Amerson eluded custody for several days before being located and detained at a Fayetteville-area motel, according to contemporaneous report from the Sanford Herald which is no longer available online.

The same report described Dolby, known to friends and family as “Junior,” as “a great kid” and a “wonderful person:”

“He was a good young man,” (former West Lee Principal Melvin) Marshall said. “This is something we are still finding a way to grapple with. The one thing about Junior was the smile on his face. He had so many friends at West Lee, and he was just one of those young men you could look at and see that smile on his face. That was Junior.”

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