Jury selected for testimony to begin

Oconee General Sessions Judge Lawton McIntosh is expected to announce rulings this morning in pre-trial motions argued yesterday after the jury in the James Bartee case went home for the rest of the day. The jury is to be back at 9 this morning for opening arguments and the start of testimony. Indications are the prosecution’s first witness is to be Jimmy Williams. A retired judge, Williams was the target of an alleged kidnap last year to prevent him from testifying in a civil court proceeding brought by Williams challenging Bartee’s qualifications to run for Oconee Sheriff. That civil action ended when Bartee was arrested on the criminal charge of solicitation to commit a felony. And it’s that charge for which Bartee stands trial this week. Yesterday Bartee’s lawyer renewed an earlier effort to suppress a recording of what the state says was conversation between Bartee and Nick Blackwell, who worked undercover for law enforcement. The admissibility of that recording is left to McIntosh’s decision. The trial judge this morning is also expected to rule on a couple of prosecution motions. The prosecution wants the judge to forbid any mention of the shooting death of another man, a case in which Blackwell had been considered a suspect. And it wants no mention of a civil lawsuit filed by Bartee against Blackwell and a countersuit by Blackwell against Bartee.