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Jury selection begins in Hudson murder trial

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In this Aug. 22, 2018 file photo, Mohammed Morshed, 27, of Hudson, appears with his attorney, Justin deArmas, of Albany, for his arraignment in Columbia County Court. Morshed is standing trial for second-degree murder in the shooting death of 19-year-Inderly InStinfil of Philmont.
June 10, 2019 10:08 pm Updated: June 11, 2019 08:51 am

HUDSON — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Columbia County man accused of shooting and killing a Philmont teen.

Mohammed Morshed, 28, of Hudson, is charged with second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony.

Morshed is accused of fatally shooting Inderly InStinfil, 19, outside a home at 20 Fairview Ave. in Hudson around 8:20 p.m. on June 17, 2018. InStinfil died from a single gunshot wound to the neck, police said in June 2018. He died days before he was expected to graduate from Hudson High School.

Hudson police have declined to comment on a motive for the shooting, except to say that the two men were arguing before the fatal shot was fired.

The trial is expected to last two weeks, Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek said. But it will be a few days before the court will hear evidence.

More than a 100 potential jurors gathered at the Columbia County Courthouse as Koweek heard reasons they should be excused from service.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected Tuesday to question remaining potential jurors in groups of 21. Those questions will determine if potential jurors can be fair and impartial as they see and hear evidence in the case.

Four panels will convene each day until a jury is chosen, Koweek said. Each attorney will have 25 minutes each to question each panel.

Twelve jurors and four alternates will be selected to sit on the jury, Koweek said.

Students attending Columbia-Greene Community College and high school students over the age of 18 and eligible for jury duty would be automatically excused because of upcoming final exams, Koweek said.

Before jury selection could begin, Koweek listened to arguments about whether the prosecution could present evidence that purportedly shows the firearm suspected of being used in the shooting was stolen.

Three days after the shooting, police said, officers found a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in the basement ceiling of 20 Fairview Ave., after a second search of the home. Police believe the handgun is the murder weapon.

Defense attorney Justin DeArmas argued against introducing the weapon as stolen, saying the potential for the jury to become prejudiced is extremely high. The weapon, he said, would have no probative value to the prosecution’s case.

But prosecutors have a different opinion, saying the gun is inextricably interwoven into their narrative of the case, Assistant District Attorney Ryan Carty said. Morshed was not permitted to have the firearm, Carty said.

Koweek ruled in favor of the district attorney’s office and allowed the prosecution to introduce evidence that purportedly shows the gun was stolen.

Morshed has been held in Columbia County Jail without bail since his arrest.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.