Jury selection begins in 10 year old murder case - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Opening statements to begin in 10 year old murder case

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CLEVELAND COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

The last of the 12 jurors and two alternates were selected Wednesday in the Donald Borders murder trial in Shelby.

Jury selection began Monday.

Borders was arrested in 2009 after a DNA match connected him to the 2003 murder of 79-year-old Margaret Tessneer.

Tessneer's daughter told WBTV Wednesday starting the trial has been "very tough" on the family.

Borders' uncle told WBTV Borders was nervous about the trial, but "maintained his innocence".

He said he hoped Borders would receive a fair trial.

During juror selection, many jurors were excused for different reasons. Some admitted to seeing reports in the news, others had a connection to someone in the case and at least two people said they were already biased.

Defense attorney David Teddy repeatedly argued for a change of venue in the trial saying potential jurors might be influenced by media reports.

But Monday, prosecutor Sally Kirby-Turner said watching media reports would not necessarily influence their opinions.

The judge denied the request.

WBTV talked to Tessneer's nephew, Steve Byers, shortly after Borders' arrest in 2009.

"It's a relief to everybody," he said.

Tessneer was found dead in her bedroom. Police said the phone lines were cut and the front door was unlocked.

She'd been raped. Two other women - Lillian Mullinax and Lottie Ledford were also found dead in their homes around the same time.

Their deaths appeared suspicious, but no one was charged because of a lack of evidence.

"You have to remember when these cases broke, specifically Miss Tessner's case, anybody that had anything to do with the house, the neighborhood, the service providers, anybody was put on the list of interest, because it was a who done it," said Chief Jeff Ledford of the Shelby Police Department.

The deaths of the three women rocked the community and the case went cold. Borders was considered a person of interest at the time of the murder, but he wasn't arrested until a new detective reopened the case 6 years later and obtained a DNA sample.

"It was through a process of elimination that got us to where we are today," said Ledford in a 2009 interview with WBTV.

Opening statements will begin Thursday afternoon.

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