Zion Foster murder trial begins with opening statements, testimony from her mother

Jaylin Brazier, 25, is accused of killing the teen and dumping her body
Jaylin Brazier
Posted at 5:15 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 18:26:54-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A jury has been seated in the murder case of Zion Foster, a 17-year-old girl from Eastpointe who disappeared in January of 2022.

Watch the opening statements below

Prosecutor gives opening statement in trial for Jaylin Brazier
Defense attorney gives opening statement in trial for Jaylin Brazier

The jury consists of six men and eight women. The selection process took about six hours on Monday. On Tuesday they heard testimony from Zion Foster's mother.

Zion Foster's mother testifies at trial for suspect in Zion's murder

Twenty-five-year-old Jaylin Brazier is on trial for allegedly killing Foster and putting her body in a dumpster. Brazier is charged with first-degree murder in her death. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Jaylin Brazier
Jaylin Brazier, right, stands next to his attorney Brian Brown during the first day of trial in the murder case of Zion Foster.

Investigators said Brazier confessed to putting her body in a dumpster and said he panicked when she suddenly stopped breathing after the two got high. Brazier denies killing Foster.

Foster's phone location pinged to Detroit, which led investigators to Brazier's home. Investigators believe her body ended up at a landfill in Lenox Township.

In May of 2022, Detroit police launched Operation Justice for Zion to recover her remains. Investigators searched the Pine Tree Acres Landfill for months, but her body has never been found.

VIDEO: In a previous report, Foster's mom responds to end of landfill search operation:

Zion Foster's mother speaks out after search concludes

Jury selection in the trial started on Monday and opening statements are expected to begin on Tuesday. Jurors will soon hear the story, see evidence and determine Brazier’s fate.

One of the main elements of the case — to our knowledge at this point — is that Foster’s body has not been recovered.

"I will tell you that I relive this every day. I relive this every night. There is hardly a night where I get sleep. This is just — toward, I guess, the ending," Foster's mother Ciera Milton told us outside the courthouse.

Ciera Milton Zion Foster's mom
Zion Foster's mother Ciera Milton outside the courthouse after jury selection in her daughter's murder case. (May 6, 2024)

Brazier is related to Milton's ex-husband.

Former state and federal prosecutor, attorney Abed Hammoud, gave us insight on the case and said the prosecution not only has to prove that Brazier committed murder, but they must prove that a murder took place.

Hammoud, who is not tied to the case, said the prosecution most likely has enough evidence to proceed in order to prove the case.

“Meaning other types of evidence,” he said. “It could be video evidence, it could be statements by people, it could be traces of blood, it could be DNA traces. This is not the first of its kind in this state.”

Hear more about the case in the video player below:

Man accused in teen cousin's murder bound over for trial

Hammoud said there have been many cases in Michigan where a person was convicted of murder without the body being found.

"Normally in any murder case, the defense is going to (say) the prosecutor did not meet their burden in proving that the client, or the defendant, committed the crime," Hammoud said. "Here, I'm assuming the defense is going to be two layers. First layer is: how can we even know there's a murder? They can't even prove that there is death, not even murder."

He said the prosecution has to prove Zion's death.

Brian Brown Jaylin Brazier attorney
Brian Brown, the attorney for Jaylin Brazier, who is on trial for the murder of Zion Foster. (May 6, 2024)

"As far as our proofs, my client maintains his innocence. So, we're just waiting for the conclusion of this trial," Brown said.