The trial for a man accused of murdering Auckland two-year-old JJ Lawrence by striking him so hard one of the toddler's internal organs split has started in the High Court.
Joel Loffley allegedly murdered JJ, whose full name is James Joseph Ruhe Lawrence, last November 14 at a house on Takitimu St in Orakei. Police confirmed JJ died of injuries caused by a "blunt force trauma" but to date have never revealed specific details of what happened to him.
Loffley was arrested on December 13 after an intense police investigation, during which detectives struggled to get consistent information from the adults at the house when JJ died.
Loffley was in a relationship with JJ's mother Josephine when the toddler died but is not his biological father. Another couple with twins, understood to be relatives of Loffley, lived at the house too.
All four adults and the twins infants were home when JJ died.
Loffley denies the charge of murder. It is unclear whether he will give evidence in his own defence.
A jury of six men and six women was selected this morning and have adjourned to select their foreperson. They will then hear opening addresses from Crown prosecutor Phil Hamlin and defence lawyer Roger Chambers.
It is expected that the Crown will start calling witnesses to give evidence later today.
There are 75 witnesses scheduled to give evidence in the trial, set down for three weeks.
Witnesses include members of Loffley and Ms Lawrence's families, friends and neighbours who knew the couple and JJ; medical and forensic experts and police who attended the scene and worked on the investigation, named Operation Avalon.
Photo: New Zealand Herald