SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Jury selection got underway Monday afternoon in the trial of the man accused in the murder of a Shreveport couple whose bodies were found in their burned-out car in November 2018.

Willie DeWayne Watkins, 37, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of 43-year-old Kelly Jose and 33-year-old Heather Jose.

Watkins has remained in custody since his arrest on Nov. 10, 2018, two days after the couple’s bodies were found inside a burning vehicle in the 3400 block of Penick Street in the Queensborough neighborhood.

Watkins was arrested at his home just two blocks away, after a standoff that lasted nearly six hours. Shreveport police say the couple had given Watkins a ride from Mall St. Vincent on the night of the slayings, where they had eaten dinner with their children earlier in the evening.

The case, which has been winding through Caddo District Court for more than three years, has been delayed multiple times, starting with the Caddo Parish grand jury upgrading Watkin’s original second-degree murder charges to first-degree murder in a Feb. 14, 2019 indictment. The trial had to be rescheduled in February 2022 under a court order issued in January postponing all jury trials until at least March 1 due to COVID concerns.

It has also been the subject of controversy after the Caddo Parish District Attorney initially moved to seek the death penalty in the case only to take the death penalty off the table in early 2021 in an effort to move the case along.

Jury selection is expected to continue Tuesday. If convicted, Watkins faces life in prison.