LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Jury selection is underway in the trial of a man charged with killing an Auburn University football player in 2014.
25-year-old Markale Hart is accused of killing Jakell Mitchell back in 2014 outside the Tiger Lodge Apartments in Auburn.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes tells News 3 jury selection started this morning and will continue tomorrow.
In November 2015, Hart pleaded not guilty and claimed he shot Mitchell in self defense after Mitchell shot first. In a preliminary hearing in May 2016, Hart was questioned about the series of events.
Defense Attorney Jerry Blevins: “Would you have shot Jakell Mitchell had he not pointed that gun at you and fired at you that evening?”
Hart: “Not at all. Not at all sir.”
Blevins: “Did you feel like you had any choice but to fire at him?”
Hart: “I didn’t have any other choice. That’s the only choice I had.”
Judge Christopher Hughes denied the motion for immunity, but Blevins can still argue his client was acting in self defense.
Blevins: “Are you sorry that he lost his life?”
Hart: “I am very sorry that he lost his life. I didn’t want to kill anybody. I didn’t go there planning to kill anybody.”
The court learned Hart was given the gun by a friend prior to the shooting. Prosecutors say Hart’s possession of the gun violated his probation on a burglary charge.
Back in March 2017, Hart’s bond was revoked after he was arrested in Tallapoosa County on charges of receiving stolen property, driving under the influence and illegal firearm possession. He was free on bond at the time.
“Mr. Hart has had a stroke of bad luck here between the murder charge and these three charges, but we all have to bear in mind that he is innocent until proven guilty,” Blevins said in March. “These are simply allegations of wrongdoing this past weekend, and we expect that the true facts will come to light next Tuesday when the details of the arrest are heard.”
Mitchell’s girlfriend at the time, Ayanna Hughuley, said Mitchell was arguing with a man in the parking lot, when a third man pulled a handgun and “just started shooting.”
She said she doesn’t know what started the disagreement and doesn’t think Mitchell knew Hart.
Mitchell graduated from Opelika and was a redshirt freshman for the Tigers. he was 18 years old.