Published October 10. 2013 3:00PM Updated October 11. 2013 12:00AM
Jury selection began Thursday in New London Superior Court in the case of a man who is accused of holding up a Norwich convenience store with a knife on July 28, 2012.
Rodney Hagins, 41, formerly of 123 West Thames St., has been held in lieu of $250,000 bond since he was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny. The police said he walked into Best Mart at 275 Central Ave armed with a knife, grabbed the store clerk and demanded money, then took an undiclosed amount of cash from the register and fled. He has pleaded not guilty.
On Thursday, prosecutor Stephen M. Carney added two charges of tampering with a witness, saying Hagins had written letters from prison to two potential witnesses asking them to provide false information. Hagins' attorney, Linda J. Sullivan, argued the new charges should be tried separately because it would be unduly prejudicial to try join the cases. Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed reviewed the letters, found them "cross-admissible," and ruled the tampering charges could be tried with the robbery charges.
The trial is expected to begin Oct. 17 before a jury of six regular members and two alternates and is expected to last three to four days. In taking the case to trial, Hagins rejected an offer from the state to plead guilty in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence.