Jury selection begins in 2015 ‘witchcraft’ triple murder trial

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The jury selection in a triple-murder case started on Monday.

Authorities initially believed that the killings were ritualistic killings linked to witchcraft. Hartung admitted to practicing the Wicca religion. Family members told News 5 in 2015 this was not true.

Donald Hartung, 63, is charged in the 2015 killings of his mother 77-year-old Bonnie Smith and his two half-brothers, John and R.T. The three victims were found brutally murdered in three separate bedrooms at their home on Deerfield Drive in Pensacola.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan stated then that the killing occurred around the time of a blue moon, which happens once every three years and is referenced in some witchcraft lore.

However, Smith’s relatives claimed to News 5 that the “blue moon” aspect of Sheriff Morgan’s 2015 press conference had “nothing to do” with the murder of the Smith family.

Investigators found other possible motives were money. Court records show Hartung’s trial could last about three weeks.

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