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By Wayne Thomas, staff writer
The trial of a Manchester man accused of murdering his 81-year-old aunt is scheduled to begin with jury selection at 9 a.m. Monday in Coffee County Circuit Court.
Jeffrey Owen Smithson, 50, of Woodbury Highway, Manchester, was arrested Aug. 18, 2011 and charged with murdering his aunt Virginia Louise Stewart White at her Ingram Place duplex apartment in Manchester.
The body of White was found Aug. 17 after neighbors became concerned because they had not
seen her in about 24 hours. The last anyone heard from her was when her son spoke to her on the phone the night before.
When Manchester police arrived they found White dead with panty hose wrapped around her neck. She had blood on her face and had apparently been struck in the head.
During a preliminary hearing in September, Manchester Police Chief Investigator Mark Yother testified, “[Smithson] said that [White] came into his bedroom and started to fuss about his using drugs and wanted him off of them. He said that made him mad and he stood up and knocked the hell out of her.” Yother has since been named police chief.
Police stated Smithson was homeless and had recently moved in with his aunt.
White’s vehicle was found in a Cannon County field Aug. 18 by authorities and he was discovered inside the car when Manchester Police Department investigators arrived on the scene. He has since been held in the Coffee County Jail on $1 million bond.
Smithson is being represented by the public defenders office. District Attorney Mickey Layne and assistant district attorney Marla Holloway are prosecuting the case. Monday was dedicated to jury selection and testimony is expected to get underway Tuesday with the prosecution going first.