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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jury Picked in Bittsevsky Murder Trial

APPichushkin looking on from within a glass security cage Monday on the first day of his trial on 49 counts of murder.
The Moscow City Court on Thursday finished jury selection in the case of Alexander Pichushkin, who is charged with bludgeoning dozens of people to death in Bittsevsky Park in southwest Moscow.

The court selected 12 jurors and six alternates to hear the case, in which Pichushkin is charged with murdering 49 people.

If convicted, Pichushkin would be the country's most prolific serial killer in more than a decade. Andrei Chikatilo was convicted in 1992 of murdering 52 women and children, dismembering victims and eating some of their remains. He was executed in 1994.

The country now has a moratorium on the death penalty, and Pichushkin faces life in prison.

Hearings are to continue Friday, and Pichushkin's lawyer, Pavel Ivannikov, reiterated that his client "fully admits his guilt," Interfax reported.

Ivannikov has remained tight-lipped about the defense's strategy in the case. But Pichushkin dropped another one of his lawyers, Roman Shirkin, on Thursday, citing disagreements with the lawyer's position.

"He is not planning to defend my interests and instead supports the prosecution's position," Pichushkin said, Interfax reported. "We spoke, and I know what tactic he selected."

City Prosecutor Yury Syomin is leading the prosecution's case.

Prosecutors say Pichushkin committed his first murder in 1992 and that he went on a killing spree beginning in 2001 that ended with his arrest in June 2006.

Pichushkin would typically invite elderly people to drink in a secluded part of Bittsevsky Park and then bash in their skulls with a hammer or other blunt object after they were drunk, prosecutors say. Pichushkin supposedly invited victims to drink at the grave of his dog, which he walked in the park after the death of his beloved grandfather.

A law enforcement source who participated in Pichushkin's arrest said in an interview that police found a notebook in his apartment containing a drawing of a chessboard. All but one of the 64 squares on the board contained a date denoting the death of one of his purported victims, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the pending trial.