Your daily 6: Colorado theater trial gets started, and the walls have ears

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Largest jury pool ever gathers for Colorado theater shooting trial.

James Holmes, who is charged with killing 12 moviegoers and wounding 70 more in a shooting spree in a crowded theatre in Aurora, Colo., in July 2012. | AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool, File DENVER — At first glance, the Colorado movie theater shooting case seems simple. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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.

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