Jury selection to start in Colorado cinema massacre trial

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Colorado theater shooting suspect has neat-trimmed hair, sits quietly as jury selection nears.

It will be far more complicated for jurors, who will wrestle with whether he was insane when he barged into a packed movie theater, clad in combat gear, and opened fire on moviegoers in July 2012.

The trial of James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring scores more inside a Colorado movie theater, is finally getting underway on Tuesday.DENVER (AP) — Theater shooting defendant James Holmes has arrived in court in Colorado with neatly trimmed dark hair and sat quietly just hours before attorneys begin choosing a jury to decide if he was sane during the deadly 2012 attack. A series of delays pushed the start of jury selection into this month, more than two and a half years after the shooting spree during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. In public for the first time since the 2012 shooting, Holmes was dressed in civilian clothes with no visible restraints, though the judge had ordered him to be tethered to the floor in a way the public couldn’t see for the trial. 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.

The trial has been postponed multiple times, with some of these delays centering on Holmes’s mental state and the different psychological evaluations that have taken place. An unprecedented jury pool of 9,000 people has been summoned and will be winnowed to a handful in the weeks ahead to hear the death penalty trial that could last until October. 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.

During a morning hearing, Judge Carlos Samour suggested that attorneys might not have to screen all the prospective jurors before beginning to select panelists. In the 2-1/2 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. In a letter published last month, Holmes’s parents asked that their son not be executed, arguing that he should instead be institutionalized or imprisoned for the rest of his life. He said the process could stop after a few thousand people are screened if he and the two sides agree they have a large enough pool from which to choose the jury.

Holmes, 27, was arrested as he stripped off his combat gear in the parking lot of the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora after he opened fire at the midnight showing of a new Batman movie. An FBI study of “active shooter” situations looked at 160 incidents between 2000 and 2013, a list that named the Aurora shooting as the deadliest during that period. More than half ended when the gunman stopped shooting, often because he committed suicide or fled; nearly half of the shooters looked at by this study ended their own lives.

Prosecutors previously rejected at least one proposed plea deal made by attorneys for Holmes, criticizing the lawyers for publicizing the offer and calling it a ploy meant to draw the public and the judge into what should be private plea negotiations. “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.” It could take until June to find the jurors and alternates who were not biased by the widespread news coverage of the shooting. They will be told not to talk to the media and not to read about the trial (including jury selection) in the news, according to Samour’s prepared remarks.

Since the trial is expected to receive quite a bit of coverage, avoiding news about it “is likely to be a particularly daunting challenge that will require GREAT EFFORT on your part,” Samour wrote. (He repeated “GREAT EFFORT” two additional times in stressing the difficulty this could entail.) In many ways, this trial parallels one happening on the other side of the country. Samour has said that the Colorado court expects to have 24 people — a dozen jurors and a dozen alternates — selected by June at the latest, when opening statements are expected. During the selection process, Holmes’ attorneys will focus on picking jurors who are morally opposed to capital punishment, even as prosecutors fight to ensure those on the panel are “death-penalty eligible,” meaning they would be open to executing Holmes.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Jury selection to start in Colorado cinema massacre trial".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site