Possible jurors ask to be excused from theater shooting case
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Prospective jurors in the Colorado theater shooting trial presented a judge with a number of excuses on Wednesday for why they shouldn’t be on the panel that decides if defendant James Holmes was insane at the time of the deadly attack.
By the end of the second day of what promises to be a long slog to picking a jury, Judge Carlos Samour had excused at least 20 people who had doctors’ notes, didn’t speak English, or weren’t residents of Arapahoe County, where the 2012 attack occurred.
However, in a sign of how difficult it might be to get excused, a summons for a woman who reported being “violently ill” and requested an ambulance was only delayed but not canceled.
More than 400 people have reported to court over two days to fill out a survey of about 75 questions — the first phase of the lengthy screening process.
That’s only about 6 percent of the 7,000 prospective jurors who received summonses. Court officials initially summoned 9,000 people, but that figure fell after some summonses could not be delivered and some other people were excused.
Some people made excuses to the judge in written notes. One said he runs his own orthodontics business that would suffer if he had to serve. Another said he knew a police lieutenant in Aurora, where the shooting happened.
One prospective juror snapped a cellphone photo of the questionnaire against Samour’s orders. A deputy made the man delete the image.
Attorneys were set to begin scrutinizing some of the questionnaires later Wednesday.
It could take until June to seat jurors and alternates for the trial of Holmes, who is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the attack that killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Defense attorney Daniel King cautioned in court that releasing too many potential jurors too soon could be a problem.
“You have to consider the fact that people may not want to sit on this jury,” he told the judge.
Samour said the selection process was on pace despite snowy weather in the area.
Holmes sat quietly during the proceedings, his hands in his lap. He was dressed in khaki slacks and a blue blazer.