BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The trial for a case known as the "wrong neighborhood beating" started Monday after a number of delays.
Donald Dickerson, 42, of Baton Rouge, will be tried on battery charges for an incident that happened in 2013. Dickerson, who is black, allegedly told a white family they were in the "wrong neighborhood" before police say he attacked them.
He is charged with second-degree battery in the May 12, 2013 attack. He is facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted as a habitual offender.
The trial has previously been delayed for various reasons. In March, prosecutors were testing an overhead projector and the defense saw some evidence it claimed it hadn't seen previously. The defense then asked for a continuance, which was granted by Judge Louis Daniel.
Jury selection was initially supposed to begin on January 5, but Daniel's office said proceedings were postponed because one of the witnesses came down the flu.
Judge Daniel questioned prospective jurors on Monday in an attempt to secure six of them for the jury and another two to act as alternates. The case is expected to last several days.
Dickerson is accused of beating a man, his wife and their daughter at the Chevron station on Plank Road at Scenic Highway. Police arrested him on a charge of second-degree battery and ticketed two others. They are all accused of punching the family.
The Baton Rouge Police Department reported one of the victims suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose and several lacerations to the face. According to the probable cause report, he and his wife were knocked unconscious.
There were some people who wanted Dickerson to face hate crime charges, but District Attorney Hillar Moore decided to try him using Louisiana's habitual offender section of the law. If convicted of a hate crime, Dickerson would only face the possibility of an extra five years added to his sentence.
Dickerson has previously been convicted of armed robbery, purse snatching and a sex crime. Those convictions, in combination with the latest offense, make Dickerson eligible to be tried as a habitual offender.
Moore said the victims are happy with his decision.