Jury selection begins in trial of youth pastor accused of killing, dismembering teen boy

Jury selection starts Monday for the murder trial of a youth pastor accused of killing and dismembering a teen boy. Ronnie Hyde is charged with 1st degree murder in the 1994 death of 16-year-old Fred Laster.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly three decades after 16-year-old Fred Laster’s dismembered body was found abandoned in a Lake City dumpster, his accused killer, Ronnie Hyde, is going to trial. Jury selection began Monday morning at 9 a.m.

News4JAX spoke with attorney Shannon Schott, who is not affiliated with this case. She said jury selection could take a week and will likely take a large jury pool.

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“What they are going to be looking for are people who can be fair and impartial despite that the subject matter in this case is arguably the worst subject matter,” Schott said.

Investigators believe Hyde befriended Laster while he was working as a youth pastor in the 80s. Police found the Yulee teen’s body in the dumpster in 1994. Investigators say his family reported him missing in 1995. It wasn’t until 2015 that DNA evidence identified Laster as the victim. Detectives learned Hyde was one of the last people to be around Laster. In 2016 blood on a flannel shirt that was found with Laster’s body matched Hyde.

Hyde was silent after detectives confronted him during an interrogation in 2017.

Along with DNA, journal entries, knives and bathroom appliques will be used as evidence in the trial.

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“With DNA testimony the analysts can narrow it down to 1 in a billion, 1 in 7 billion. They can explain how many people are on this earth and how likely it is that this is the right person, and they do a really good job at excluding everyone else in the world or beyond with evidence they’re able to present because the science is that good,” said Schott.

Throughout the years, victims have come forward saying they were sexually abused by Hyde at his home while they were teenage boys. Hyde also has dozens of child pornography charges against him.