FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On August 24, a resentencing hearing began in Washington County Circuit Court for a man convicted of murdering a child in 1987.
Christopher Segerstrom, 51, was found guilty of murdering 4-year-old Barbara Thompson in 1987 when he was 15 years old. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On March 12, 2019, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that he shouldn’t have been sentenced to life without parole as a minor. His attorneys then filed a motion on June 4, 2019, stating that their client needed a medical evaluation to determine if he was mentally fit to be re-tried.
After multiple medical examinations of Segerstrom were conducted, Judge Mark Lindsay of the Circuit Court of Washington County, Sixth Division, found the defendant fit to proceed on March 7. Judge Lindsay is also presiding over the resentencing, which began shortly after 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday by winnowing down a pool of potential jurors to a jury of 12, plus one alternate.
The judge explained to the jurors that this is a unique case, in that they “will not be asked to consider evidence in the finding of guilt,” but only in sentencing. Segerstrom could receive a sentence of 10-40 years or life in prison. Each potential juror was questioned about his or her ability to consider the complete range of sentencing options, with some dismissed for cause after admitting that they could not do so.
Other potential jurors were dismissed due to scheduling or personal concerns, and the defense and prosecution were each able to remove some through preemptive challenges. Jurors were warned that the evidence will include graphic photos of the 4-year-old victim.
“I’m asking you to search your heart,” the judge asked the panel, referring to their ability to view all the evidence and remain impartial as they determine Segerstrom’s sentence.
The jury was sworn in shortly before 12:15 p.m. The afternoon session is expected to begin by opening statements from the prosecution and defense at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Judge Lindsay has estimated that the jury should be able to begin deliberations late Thursday or Friday.