A Cambria County jury will be taken today to visit the secluded area of Johnstown where a city man was shot and killed a year ago.

The jury was chosen Thursday for the trial of Alexander L. Bush, who is charged with first-degree murder, robbery and other charges in the Sept. 24, 2004, death of 29-year-old Darnell Alexander.

If convicted of either first- or second-degree murder, Bush, 26, a former Johnstown resident most recently living near Harrisburg, would face a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Prosecutors previously ruled out seeking a death sentence. Second-degree murder is defined as a killing during the commission of a felony crime, in this case the alleged robbery of an unknown amount of money and ID cards belonging to the victim.

Bush has said that he shot Alexander in self-defense. But police allege that Bush killed Alexander over money in what was described as a drug-related murder.

Authorities said the victim was shot twice – in the head and neck.

The shooting took place along a dirt track off Plum Street in the Woodvale neighborhood.

The two men, who were accompanied by two other men, reportedly were walking in the early morning to what Bush had told Alexander was to be a party in a cabin near train tracks.

The gruesome discovery of the body was made several hours later by an East Taylor Township Water Authority employee, who was checking on a pump station.

Prosecutors Patrick Kiniry and Kelly Callihan want jurors to see the remote location as well the area where Bush supposedly disposed of the murder weapon – a .380-caliber semi-automatic. Police say he threw it into the Little Conemaugh River off Iolite Avenue.

The visit will take place after jurors hear opening statements, Judge Norman Krumenacker said.

Krumenacker, prosecutors and defense attorneys John Kasaback and David Beyer worked into the evening Thursday to complete jury selection in one day. By 7 p.m. they were done, seating a panel of seven men and five women.

This will be the first major criminal trial in county court in which jurors have the option of taking notes during testimony.

Pennsylvania courts had barred note-taking during trials, but that rule was changed several months ago.

The three-year experiment requires judges to allow note-taking in trials lasting longer than two days. Each juror will decide whether to take any notes.

The trial is expected to last until the middle of next week. Krumenacker has said there will be no weekend court sessions.

Jurors may return home each evening rather than being sequestered at a motel. They have been instructed by Krumenacker to not read or listen to news reports of the trial.

Kiniry said the prosecution will call about three dozen witnesses.

The state’s star witness is expected to be Jerome Rozier of Johnstown, one of those with Bush and Alexander that night.

Rozier has been charged with hindering the apprehension of Bush. Rozier reportedly provided Bush with transportation from the murder scene.

Kasaback said a decision has not yet been made on whether Bush will testify in his own defense.

“We’ll wait and see how the commonwealth’s case goes before making that decision,” Kasaback said.

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