COLUMBUS — Jury selection was completed on Wednesday morning in the murder trial of Kaston Hudgins.
The jury was seated shortly before 11:30 and is comprised of seven men and seven women — two of whom are alternates.
Hudgins is charged with two counts of felony murder in the deaths of mother and daughter Teresa and Taylor Kemp.
Hudgins' attorney Shane Adamson repeatedly questioned potential jurors about a tendency to trust law-enforcement testimony over that of average citizens.
Adamson also asked if any potential jurors had been involved in the Teresa and Taylor Kemp Memorial fund or had attended the same church — Friend's Church of Riverton.
No jurors had in either case and the jury was seated. Opening statements are expected to begin today and first witnesses will be called this afternoon.
Hudgins was originally facing two counts of first degree murder, two counts of fleeing or attempting to elude, DUI, reckless driving, two count of failure to yield, driving without headlights, improper driving on a laned road and speeding.
The charges have been amended and Hudgins is on trial for two counts of felony murder and one count of eluding police.
On July 16, 2009 Hudgins was allegedly involved in a police chase where he was driving at a high rate of speed with no headlights on and a blood alcohol level of .15. Hudgins’ 1997 Nissan allegedly struck the rear end of a 2005 Pontiac vibe driven by Teresa Kemp who had her daughter Taylor in the car as a passenger. The collision caused the Kemp vehicle to land on the driver side seriously injuring Teresa and killing Taylor. The accident happened at the Five south junction outside of Pittsburg Kansas. On July 22, Teresa Kemp later succumbed to her injuries and died in the hospital.
Taylor Kemp was just 13.
On April 11, 2011 Hudgins was found “100 percent responsible,” by Eleventh Judicial District Court Judge Jeffery Jack in a wrongful death lawsuit in which the defense — that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department was at least partially responsible for the deaths of the Kemps because deputies pursued Hudgins when he fled a traffic stop — is expected to be the same defense used this week.
Is is a defense Jack rejected completely in the lawsuit, calling it “borderline frivolous.”
Jack hit Hudgins with nearly $5.5 million in compensatory damages and is awaiting post trial briefs before making a decision on punitive damages.
The trial is expected to last all week.