JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville murder trial pushed back 13 different times faces delays yet again.
Chad Absher is accused of choking and then shooting his ex-girlfriend to death on Halloween in 2017. He now faces a charge of first-degree murder.
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Opening statements were expected to start Tuesday morning at the Duval County Courthouse, but two jurors were excused for sickness.
A mini-jury selection with a new panel of potential jurors will start Tuesday at 1 p.m. to replace them.
One juror called out sick after testing positive for COVID-19. Another was excused for his anxiety disorder, leaving the jury panel with no alternates.
The court will pick four additional alternates, instead of two, bringing the total panel to 16 jurors.
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The judge expects opening statements and witness testimony to start after that.
Absher is accused of choking and then murdering his ex-girlfriend Ashlee Rucker on Halloween five years ago with two kids present.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said he also shot Ashlee’s sister Lisa Rucker in the head, but she survived.
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According to an arrest warrant, the double shooting started over an argument about Absher’s car keys, leading to a citywide manhunt.
In 2017, Action News Jax showed you exclusive video of Absher being handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser.
The Rucker family has been pushing for the death penalty.
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“He tried to kill two people and one of their children -- and succeeded with one. So I don’t think he should be alive right now,” Lisa Rucker said.
The judge told jurors yesterday that the state would not be seeking the death penalty. Opening statements are expected to start at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Action News Jax’s Robert Grant will have the latest updates from court on CBS47 and FOX30 Action News Jax at 5.
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