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Death penalty case gets started in Brunswick County

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A death penalty case is underway for a man accused of raping, killing and setting a mother of two on fire in 2008.

A couple hundred potential jurors filed in to the Brunswick County Courthouse today for the trial of Carl Alston.

On July 30, 2008, firefighters found the body of Valerie Burns in her burned-out car a few miles from her Leland home. An autopsy found the 49-year-old mother of two, who was last seen alive the night before the discovery, died from carbon monoxide poisoning, but not before prosecutors say she was kidnapped and raped after visiting a downtown Wilmington bar.

More than a month later, on September 4, 2008, investigators charged Carl Alston with killing Burns.

Now more than four years later, Alston is set to stand trial for the crimes. He also faces the death penalty.

District Attorney Jon David says hundreds of potential jurors began orientation in the capital murder case today. The selection process is expected to last several weeks. David does not expect testimony to start until late this month at the earliest.

Brunswick county last saw a death penalty case in 2006. In that trial, Darrell Maness was sentenced to death for killing a Boiling Spring Lakes police officer.

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