Jury chosen for upcoming Vaughn prison trial

One correctional officer was killed during a prison riot at Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware in February. (File/WHYY)

One correctional officer was killed during a prison riot at Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware in February. (File/WHYY)

A 12-member jury has been selected for the upcoming trial of the first four inmates charged in the February 2017 prison riot that led to the death of a correctional officer.

The trial for Jarreau Ayers, Derric Forney, Roman Shankaras and Dwayne Staats — charged with murder, assault, kidnapping, riot and conspiracy — is expected to begin Oct. 22 and continue for about a month.

After interviewing 225 potential jurors, a panel of 60 individuals was chosen to participate in the jury selection process. On Thursday, a final jury was selected. More than half of the jury are white women, and their ages are varied. Six alternates also were chosen.

Ayers and Staats already are serving life sentences for murder — both have opted to represent themselves during the trial. Shankaras is serving a seven-year sentence for riot and robbery, and Forney is serving 11 years for various firearm and drug charges.

A year ago, 18 James T. Vaughn Correctional Center inmates were charged in connection with the 18-hour Smyrna prison riot that led to the death of Correctional Officer Lt. Steven Floyd. Sixteen of them were charged with first degree murder.

Over the next several months, multiple 12-member juries will be picked for the trials of four defendants at a time.

In December, the state paid $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by six workers in the Department of Correction and five others — including Floyd’s widow and children. The lawsuit was filed against the DOC and former Govs. Jack Markell and Ruth Ann Minner, as well as other prison and budget administrators. They were accused of failing to properly fund and operate the Department of Correction and its facilities.

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