Leslie Ware Jr., 35, is on trial for the 2005 robbery and execution-style murder of Jeffrin Nolan, 27, and Terrance Alexander, 21, inside the former Sole candle shop on Myrtle Street. The shop was owned by Nolan.
Ware is being tried on two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of felony first- degree murder.
He is accused of entering the candle shop on the night of Nov. 18, 2005, and shooting both Nolan and Alexander once in the back of the head. Ware and Osheen Massey are accused of having the largest roles in the murder.
The murders of Nolan and Alexander are alleged to be drug related, and Ware is accused of targeting them because they were allegedly selling cocaine out of the candle shop. Ware is also accused of taking part in a cocaine-distribution operation headed by Massey, who has already pleaded guilty to several crimes related to the case.
Ware is also being charged with one count each of especially aggravated robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, criminal conspiracy to possess more than 26 grams of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, possession of more than 26 grams of cocaine for resale and maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used or sold.
Ware is the last of six co-defendants to be tried. He has pleaded not guilty to all nine charges.
Jury selection ran all day Monday and most of the day Tuesday, with 100 potential jurors being whittled down to 15. The final jury was selected around 3 p.m. Tuesday. Judge Jerry Beck decided to send the jury home and start the trial this morning.
Seven women and eight men will serve on the jury. Three of the 15 people chosen will serve as alternates.
This is Ware’s second trial. His first trial ended in a mistrial when he allegedly conspired for his attorney, Steve Finney, to bring him drugs into jail. Finney inspected a pair of shoes that had come from Ware’s family in January 2012 and found marijuana tucked underneath the sole.
Finney checked because Ware had allegedly conspired to have his former attorneys, Jim Bowman and Stacey Street, bring buprenorphine into the jail on a separate occasion.
Another attorney, Bob Jessee, was appointed to Ware, but withdrew from the case after he filed a complaint last year with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility seeking his removal. Attorney T. Wood “Woody” Smith of Greeneville was appointed in August of last year to represent Ware.
Ware was found and arrested in New York in 2007.
The death penalty was taken off the table last January. If convicted, Ware could face life in prison with the possibility of parole. The trial is expected to last three weeks.