Jury Selection To Begin In 2012 Aurora Theater Mass Shooting

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

James Holmes, Colorado movie theatre shooter, to face jurors Tuesday.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. This Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 file photo shows a view of the jury box, right, inside Courtroom 201, where jury selection in the trial of Aurora movie theater shootings defendant James Holmes is to begin on Tuesday at the Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo. (Brennan Linsley/The Associated Press) It will be far more complicated for jurors, who will wrestle with whether he was insane when he barged into a packed movie theatre, clad in combat gear, and opened fire on moviegoers in July 2012. Their task will be to decide whether James Holmes was legally insane at the time of the July 20, 2012, attack during a showing of a Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Experts say it is rare to have a mass shooter appear in court to face charges — many either are killed by police or commit suicide. “The public is going to get an insight into the mind of a killer who says he doesn’t know right from wrong,” said Alan Tuerkheimer, a Chicago-based jury consultant. “It is really rare.

It just doesn’t usually come to this.” The first step begins on Tuesday, when 9,000 prospective jurors — what experts say is the largest jury pool in U.S. history — begin arriving at the courthouse in Centennial, in suburban Denver. Psychiatrists and attorneys previously interviewed by The Associated Press say that it would be unlikely that Holmes would be released from a state mental institution should a jury find him not guilty by reason of insanity. (Arapahoe County Sheriff/File/The Associated Press) In the 2½ years since the shooting, the case has sparked an emotionally charged debate, with his parents begging for a plea deal that would save his life while many survivors and family members of victims have demanded that he be put to death.

More detailed questioning of potential jurors will begin in mid-February. “We deeply appreciate your participation in this important aspect of our democratic society,” Judge Carlos Samour will tell the jurors Tuesday, according to his prepared remarks. “Without you, we could not have jury trials of the system of justice our nation enjoys.” Tuesday’s start of jury selection comes 914 days after the July 2012 attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, in which 12 people were killed and 70 others wounded. So, while Tuesday marks the end of one journey, those impacted by the attack know the day also marks the beginning of another. “We’ve all been to therapists and have talked to our families and have our support groups, so we’re prepared,” said Marcus Weaver, who was shot in the arm and whose friend, Rebecca Wingo, died in the attack. “It’s gonna be quite the journey.” THE VICTIMS: The dead included a 6-year-old girl, two active-duty servicemen, a single mom, an aspiring broadcaster who survived a mall shooting in Toronto and a 27-year-old celebrating his birthday and wedding anniversary. If Holmes is found guilty of murder, the jury would then decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or executed. A straight not-guilty verdict is considered unlikely because his lawyers have acknowledged he was the gunman, and the evidence that he pulled the trigger is overwhelming.

Prosecutors will try to ensure jurors have no reservations about the death penalty while defense attorneys will look for those sympathetic to mental illness and uneasy with the idea of executing a person.

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