450 potential jurors were called to the Bastrop County courthouse for the murder trial of Daniel Willis. The former deputy wore a business suit Monday - as his attorney Robert McCabe worked to keep his client out of a prison uniform.
"For lack of a better term, Daniel Willis is a scape goat in this entire matter,” said McCabe.
Willis is charged with killing Yvette Smith in February of 2014. She was shot after Willis and other deputies went to her home in response to a domestic disturbance call. According to Initial reports said there was a fight, between two men, over a sledge hammer - and then a gun. McCabe doesn't deny that his client fired the fatal shots.
"It is our position that Yvette Smith came to the door armed with a long gun, that being a shotgun or a rifle, and Deputy Willis shot her to defend himself and to defend Willie Thomas, a citizen that was out front that was involved in the despite, and to protect the life of (another deputy), who was also on scene,” said McCabe.
Conflicting statements about why the shots were fired resulted in Willis's murder indictment. Defense attorneys are not asking to have the trial moved out of Bastrop County, but they do have several questions for all the potential jurors.
A questionnaire, Monday, was handed out requesting opinions about the Black Lives movement; as well as confrontations with police in Ferguson, MO and in Waller County.
"All of that has caused a lot of polarization in a good part of our population, so we are concern that may have an impact, and also the more recent events that have happened with regards to law enforcement officers being targeted, we want people to put that aside, and come in and just listen to the facts of this case,” said Prosecutor Forrest Sanderson.
For those selected to sit in the jury box - there will be a lot to consider. Opening Statements are expected Tuesday morning and the trial is expected to last two weeks.
A civil case involving the shooting has already been resolved. In April the County paid the family of Yvette Smith $1.2 million.