- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

HOUSTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) — Houston Mayor Lee Brown is a juror in the murder trial of a man accused of slashing his 6-year-old son to death.

Brown, a former police chief in Houston, Atlanta and New York City, was seated Monday on the 12-member jury hearing the case against Mohammad Nasir. He allegedly killed his son, Osama, with a butcher knife at their home a year ago.

Although Brown's selection surprised some legal observers, it did not draw opposition from either prosecutors or defense attorneys who said they were confident he would be a good juror. There are six men and six women on the jury.

Brown, who sat on the back row of the jury box, maintained a low profile.

"I am doing my civic duty, just as I would hope all other Houstonians would do," he said through a spokesman.

Nasir, 42, allegedly attacked his son with a large butcher knife on Jan. 19, 2002, then slashed the child's throat. The defendant's throat was also cut, but prosecutors contend that wound was self-inflicted. The defense says an intruder killed the boy.

"I have every confidence in the mayor," prosecutor Vic Wisner told the Houston Chronicle. "He was the chief of police. We have a strong case and I'm sure he'll be a fine juror."

Defense attorney Tom Lambright said the mayor would be fair.

"I don't think his connection with the police department is as strong as his connection to the public is. He represents all the people in this community," he said. "I think Mayor Brown will make a fine juror."

Susan Crump, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told the Chronicle she was surprised the defense did not strike Brown.

"It's not that I think he will be unfair. But all jurors come into the process with different experiences and different biases, whether they are aware of them or not," she said. "He has spent years listening to law enforcement's side of the criminal justice system and thinking of defendants as being on the other side. And that kind of thinking is hard to set aside even when you attempt to do it, which I am sure he will attempt to do."

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