HOUSTON – A jury was seated Tuesday in the murder trial of Roderick Fountain, a 37-year-old man accused of killing his 3-year-old son nearly six years ago.
The case has haunted the Houston area ever since Kendrick Jackson disappeared in 2006 – especially because his body was never recovered.
Fountain’s family members expressed outrage about the case, claiming police used a tiny casket to try to entice them to talk. In an interview with KHOU 11 News in 2006, Fountain claimed his son vanished from their southwest Houston apartment while he was doing laundry.
"I thought he was just right around at first, until I come out searching and jumping into the car and about 30 minutes went by and I noticed my boy really is missing. And I came back to the house and called 911," Fountain said.
He was sent to prison that same year on a weapons violation.
Three years later, he was charged with murder in Kendrick’s death after a fellow inmate allegedly heard Fountain confess to the crime.
Defense attorney Charles Brown said the biggest challenge for Fountain’s team was overcoming the publicity that comes with cases like this.
"It makes it real hard. Juries look at TV. They look at movies. They make decisions, sometimes not based on fact, but emotions," Brown said.
But there’s no dismissing the fact that the prosecution hasn’t produced a body. While a conviction wouldn’t be unprecedented, at the end of the day, it remains a case that’s largely circumstantial.
"There’s a famous old case where three people were actually convicted of killing someone, but years later the person showed up healthy," Sandra Guerra Thomson, a law professor at the University of Houston, said.
The prosecution declined to comment Tuesday, but the DA’s office did some informal research and told KHOU 11 News there have been at least eight murder cases tried or pleaded in Harris County where a body was ever recovered.
Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday.