Dale A. Eagle Sr.

Surrounded by county inmate transport guards, Dale A. Eagle Sr., at right, looking at camera, accompanied members of a Marion County jury Monday afternoon. The jury saw the farm of the late Robert Slatt Sr. and his wife Tanna, and Eagle’s home, both on Dora Lane in Four States. The jury will hear opening statements today in Marion Judge David R. Janes’ courtroom as Eagle stands trial for the couple’s murder last May.

A Marion County jury will hear opening statements today in the trial of a Four States man accused of murdering his neighbors, and shooting and wounding their son last spring.

Dale A. Eagle Sr., 63, is charged with fatally shooting Robert Slatt Sr., 56, and his wife Tanna Slatt, 52, on May 16. Eagle is also charged with shooting and wounding their son, Robert “Bobby” Slatt Jr., 31, in the same attack.

James B. Zimarowski, Eagle’s defense lawyer, has said his client was provoked by an ongoing property dispute with the Slatts.

Jury selection ran into the early afternoon Monday. About 100 jurors, drawn by combining the

two pools in the county’s two court divisions, were called to attend

the process.

Those who made the jury also had to pass individual interviews in Judge David R. Janes’ chambers. Prosecutor Patrick N. Wilson and Zimarowski questioned them before the judge in his conference room. The jurors were asked whether they were prejudiced by their exposure to news coverage of the crime.

The jury and three alternate jurors then took a Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority bus to Dora Lane off the Four States Road.

There they squeezed into several four-wheel drive vehicles belonging to the Marion Sheriff’s Department to ascend the narrow dirt road that leads up a steep ridge to the Slatts’ 200-acre farm.

Led by Judge Janes, the jury at one point got out of the vehicles and walked to a large, two-story wooden farmhouse.

The couple’s bodies — and their late-model blue Ford Explorer XLT sport utility vehicle with a bullet hole in the windshield on the front passenger side — had been found on the country lane by police responding to 911 calls on the afternoon of May 16.

The judge told the jury that Wilson and Zimarowski would be referring to the scene in their opening statements.

Eagle, guarded by deputies and inmate transport officers, also attended the jury view. So did Wilson, Zimarowski, Assistant Prosecutor Brandon Flower and Chief Detective Doris James of the Sheriff’s department.

Later, the jury also saw the Slatts’ vehicle. It was parked inside the county election center in the old Bauer Lumber Building on the East Side.

After walking around the vehicle, the jury was dismissed for the day at 4:37 p.m.

They are to report at 9 a.m. today.

E-mail Bill Byrd at bbyrd@timeswv.com

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