Trial of man accused of killing Shelby police officer could last months

Man accused of killing officer in court

SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) - Jury selection began Monday for a man accused of killing a Shelby police officer three years ago.

Irving Fenner, Jr. is accused of first degree murder in the shooting death of police officer Tim Brackeen three years ago in Shelby.

Jury selection was moved to Catawba County because of pre-trial publicity in the case. Once a jury is selected, the trial itself will be moved back to Shelby at the Cleveland County Courthouse.

Defense Attorney Vicki Jayne said jury selection will take several weeks and the trial itself could add on ten more weeks.

Fenner is accused of shooting the police officer when he tried to serve warrants on him in September, 2016. Brackeen was attempting to serve a warrant on Fenner in the area of Parkview Street when Fenner allegedly shot Brackeen in the torso. Brackeen died a few days later.

Fenner was found two days later in Rhode Island. The state is seeking the death penalty in the case if Fenner is convicted.

Monday morning, pre-trial motions were heard. Most of it was routine to map out ground rules and procedures for questioning jurors and checking witness lists.

The defense, which is claiming Fenner is intellectually disabled as part of its defense, asked for a trial delay from the judge so an expert can look at the defense and state reports on Fenner’s mental health. The judge denied the request but indicated he thought there would be time for the expert to check the reports before the trial begins.

Though the case will proceed slowly, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Major Durwin Boscoe says that’s all right with him.

“All the i’s should be dotted and the t’s crossed so we will get the proper justice for the family,” Boscoe said.

As of late Monday, no jurors had been selected in the case.

Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford said it doesn’t seem like it’s been three years since Brackeen was killed, but that may be because there is still a lot going on around the incident.

Ledford said the court process is something he’d like to finish as soon as possible, but he understands why it’s taken so long for a trial date to arrive.

“I understand it takes time and so I think at the end of the day, that’s worth it. It is a long journey, but I think you just have to keep it in your mind that this journey is this long for a reason,” said Ledford.

Chief Ledford keeps a road sign bearing the slain officer’s name in his office. It’s a symbol of honor, but a reminder that he lost one of his own.

“As the leader of the organization, everything here is my responsibility and I know that and I accept that. I know every member of our team here that when they go out to go to work, they go out to provide a service whether it’s on the street or in a dispatch center or wherever it may be. I know I’m responsible and that’s just something that I kind of process as we go along,” said Ledford.

The chief described the loss of Brackeen as a ‘hole’ in his department that will never be closed.

Hundreds of people attended the slain officer’s funeral.

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