Movie massacre trial of James Holmes to begin with 9000 potential jurors

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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. Holmes was dressed in civilian clothes Tuesday and 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.—Following months of delays, jury selection is set to begin Tuesday afternoon in the trial of James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding scores more in a mass shooting at a crowded Colorado movie theater in 2012.

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. Holmes, a 27-year-old former graduate student, faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in the shooting, which took place in Aurora, Colo., during a showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” Some 9,000 summonses have been mailed out to potential jurors in Arapahoe County—one of the largest jury pools ever called in the U.S., according to legal experts. The scope of jury selection and the trial is a testament to the logistical hurdles of trying the rare case of a mass shooter who survives his own attack. “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.” In the 2 1/2 years since the shooting, the case has sparked an emotionally charged debate, with Holmes’ 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. The enormous number of prospective jurors being considered reflects just how deeply the mass shooting, one of the worst in the nation’s history, has impacted Colorado.

And in the months following the rampage, a long and wrenching debate over gun control dominated the state legislature here, an issue that continues to seep into local politics. After more than two years of public scrutiny swirling around the case, experts say it will be especially challenging for prosecutors and defense lawyers to find jurors who can truly be impartial. 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.

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