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Jury selection begins in trial for man accused of killing 5 in south KC neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jury selection for a man who allegedly killed five people in south KC began Monday.

Brandon Howell is charged with beating two people to death and shooting and killing three others in 2014. Prosecutors said they don't expect to hear opening statements until Wednesday.

In 2015, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.

According to court documents, the murders happened on Woodbridge Lane, near Wornall Road and Blue Ridge Boulevard. The victims are 86-year-old Ann Taylor, 80-year-old George Taylor, 88-year-old Lorene Hurst, her 68-year-old son Darrel Hurst and 69-year-old Susan Choucroun.

Court documents say Howell allegedly tried to steal a vintage Jaguar from Ann and George Taylor. Police found the couple badly beaten and barely clinging to life in their basement. They later died at the hospital.

According to a police investigation, Howell hot-wired the car and tried to get away. But the car didn't work, and neighbors came outside to try to help.

Brandon Howell

That's when court documents say Howell allegedly shot at them and killed Lorene Hurst, Darrel Hurst and Susan Choucroun.

Then, court documents say Howell drove off in another one of the Taylor's cars, a Toyota SUV. It all happened in broad daylight, around one o'clock.

Hours later, just before midnight, police found Howell walking with a shotgun they said he brought to the Taylor's home and used in the killings, near I-29 and Northwest Barry Road.

They said he attacked three people at a Motel 6 after he left Woodbridge. Howell is facing charges in Platte County related to that incident.

A memorial stands tall at the entrance of the Woodbridge neighborhood in South Kansas City. It's a reminder of the five victims.

"It was very, very emotional," said John Purcell, who lives in Woodbridge. "It was five people who expired. Upset everyone in the community. And it took quite some time for the community to kind of heal a little bit. This will help to bring closure I think to the whole incident."

With the pain of loss on their shoulders, neighbors are ready for the trial.

A key witness, Jim Anderson, died days after the homicides.

"Well, we are very glad that it is coming up at last," Purcell said. "I think a lot of us in the community have been concerned that it's taken so long to get to trial. So we are anxious about that because the community was very upset about the whole incident that occurred, and we were wondering why it had taken so long."

Neighbors in Woodbridge said they live in a very close community, and they all became even closer after the killings. Since the homicides happened, the people who live in that cul-de-sac now go out to dinner together once a month.

This case is not Howell's first brush with the law. He did jail time in Kansas for assault and kidnapping and was acquitted of two 1999 murders.

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