Jury selection began on Monday for the daughter of a well-known local restaurateur who is accused of killing her father with a metal spatula and rolling pin before tucking his body away in a room for days.
Kelli Diedre Sartin, 55, appeared before 52 potential jurors on Monday so the prosecution and defense can agree on two and at least one deputy before the trial begins on Tuesday.
Sartin, who was present for the selection pool, has been imprisoned since September 9, 2019 on $ 1 million bail. She is accused of killing her father, Charles Sartin, 81, who in 1971 launched the first of several Sartin seafood restaurants.
Kelli was arrested on September 9 after Port Arthur police were dispatched to the 5000 block of Tremont Street in Sabine Pass at around 4:19 a.m. over a welfare check.
At the time, according to an affidavit of probable cause, the accused stated that her father had committed suicide with a rolling pin and a metal spatula four days previously.
The victim’s body was found in a room, where it had been wrapped in a tarp. Police reports say the room was cleaned with bleach and the bedroom door was sealed with duct tape.
Sartin has remained in jail since that day because, as the prosecution said on Monday, lawyers failed to reach a plea deal.
The first possibility at the start of the trial was to have enough jurors present. In the midst of COVID-19, this has been more difficult than usual. However, said District Attorney Bob Wortham, the priority goes to criminal trials. On Monday, 52 of the 62 jurors solicited appeared.
“We’ve been trying to work on trials for a year and a half now,” Presiding Judge Raquel West of the 252nd District Court said, while addressing potential jurors. “Thank you for coming. ”
Assistant District Attorney Phillip Smith and Defense Attorney Tom Burbank both spoke to jurors, though neither gave details of the case.
They said, however, that attempts to reach a plea deal had not been successful in the past two years.
The trial is not expected to last longer than Friday.
Sartin, if convicted, chose jury punishment.
The sentence for first degree murder carries a sentence of 5 to 99 years or life imprisonment.