Jury selection to begin for downtown suitcase murder - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jury selection to begin for downtown suitcase murder

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Jury selection began Tuesday for the trial of a man accused of killing a woman at a downtown San Diego hotel, stuffing her body into a suitcase, and dumping it in a communal shower.
   
Jason Bradwell Lewis, 41, is accused in the death of 26-year-old Jhordann Reann Rust of Wisconsin.
   
As many as 80 prospective jurors will be vetted in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Amalia Meza, and opening statements could begin as soon as Wednesday.
   
Rust's fiance, Cory Nowell, testified during a preliminary hearing in March that he and Rust met in Denver last year and came to San Diego by bus, arriving Dec. 12 at the 500 West Hotel on Broadway.
   
He said they consumed a few drinks after checking into the hotel and then walked around the downtown area looking for marijuana. He kept blacking out, however, and was taken into custody by police.
   
Rust wasn't in their room after Nowell was released two nights later, but his cell phone was missing and he noticed a wallet he'd left with her had been searched, though all their money was still there.
   
Deputy District Attorney Melissa Vasel said the victim called her mother in Wisconsin shortly after midnight on Dec. 13, and the mother heard a struggle and could tell her daughter was being attacked. The mother called San Diego police, but officers could not locate Rust.
   
On Dec. 15, employees of the hotel called 911 after discovering the victim's body. Lewis' fingerprint was found near where Rust's body was found, the prosecutor said.
   
Inside a nearby trash can, officers found Nowell's cell phone and a blood-stained mattress pad and some of the victim's clothing, Vasel said.
   
The victim had been seen with Lewis the night before her death, buying alcohol at a 7-Eleven store and going into a fifth-floor room with him, Vasel said.
   
A crime lab specialist testified that Lewis' DNA was found near the victim's groin, and her DNA was found on a sheet and bed leg. There was evidence of a violent struggle in Lewis' room, according to police.

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