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Saline County murder trial opens today in Manhattan

By Bethany Knipp

The trial of a Salina man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 14-month-old child began today with jury selection in the Riley County District Court.

Antonio M. Brown Sr., 29, was granted a change of venue after his case and plea received intense media coverage in Saline County.

Brown’s case was widely covered after he escaped from jail on Feb. 11, the day before his sentencing hearing on first-degree murder and child abuse charges.

He surrendered to authorities on Feb. 13 and changed his original no contest plea to not guilty.

Brown is accused of beating 14-month-old Clayden Lee Urbanek to death on Oct. 4, 2011.

The child’s mother, Brittney Betzold, 21, was convicted of second-degree murder and child abuse for not intervening to save the child. She was sentenced in January to 13 years in prison.

Saline County Judge Rene Young will preside in the trial, with a jury chosen from Riley County.

The selection process should conclude by Friday, with the trial itself expected to last up to seven or eight days after the jurors have been picked.

Brown is being housed in the Riley County jail for the duration of his trial.

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