The retrial of Orange Taylor III, a suspect in the alleged rape and murder of Eastern Michigan University student Laura Dickinson, is set to begin today, five months after the initial case was deemed a mistrial because the jury was hopelessly deadlocked after three days of deliberations.

Dickinson, 22, was found dead in her dorm room Dec. 15, 2006. Taylor, a 21-year-old from Southfield, is charged with open counts of murder, which means the jury could charge Taylor with either first- or second-degree murder if he’s found guilty.

Several Eastern Michigan administrators came under fire after the incident for initially telling Dickinson’s parents and the media that no foul play was suspected in the incident.

After it was announced that Dickinson had been found naked from the waist down, with a pillow over her face and semen on her thigh, an independent investigation and a U.S. Department of Education report found that the university had violated a federal law requiring full disclosure of campus security issues.

The findings led the school’s Board of Regents to fire then-president John Fallon. Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Vick and Public Safety Director Cindy Hall were also forced to resign.

The retrial was set to begin yesterday, but jury selection lasted the entire day because the pool was so large, at about 100 prospective jurors. Judge Archie Brown, who presided over the first trial, will hear the case at the Washtenaw County Trial Court on East Huron Street.

During the first trial, the prosecution argued that Taylor snuck into Dickinson’s dorm room, raped her and then killed her.

Security footage from Dickinson’s residence hall showed that Taylor entered the building before she died. DNA was also found on Dickinson’s body that matched Taylor’s. Along with the murder charge, the prosecution argued that Taylor intended to commit sexual penetration, home invasion and larceny in a building.

Attorney Alvin Keel, who defended Taylor in the mistrial but has since withdrawn from the case, argued that Taylor was present in Dickinson’s dorm room that night but didn’t kill her.

Keel withdrew from the case in December because Taylor’s family could no longer afford his services, The Detroit News reported. Assistant Public Defender Laura Graham is representing Taylor in the upcoming trial.

During the first trial, Keel said his client had been smoking marijuana with a friend in another dorm room and wandered into Dickinson’s room looking for more drugs. He said that when Taylor saw Dickinson, he thought she was passed out and then ejaculated on her. Keel argued at the time that physical evidence alone couldn’t prove Taylor raped or killed Dickinson.

“(Physical evidence) doesn’t even mean you touched the person,” he said.

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