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Three Jurors Dismissed From James Holmes Trial

Three jurors were dismissed today from the Aurora Theater shooting trial of James Holmes. One juror (juror 872) had told other jurors about media accounts of a mistrial request that had been denied. On another occasion she told them about information she received from her husband that one of the lawyers in the case (who was chief prosecutor George Brauchler) got in trouble with the court for tweeting about the case from the courtroom. Her husband told her that @GeorgeBrauchler had tweeted about the trial from the courtroom and he called him an "idiot." On one occasion, she had her husband on speakerphone in the presence of up to four other jurors.

The judge said, "This isn't' a one word type of thing. These were multiple comments."

There are four women jurors who hang out together on breaks on the patio where they can smoke cigarettes. The fifth juror sometimes went out to the patio. [More...]

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Live Opening Statements in James Holmes Case

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is giving the opening statement for the prosecution in the trial of James Holmes. It's being televised on Channel 7 in Denver (thankfully no commentary so far.) Above is the streaming version from Fox News, also no commentary so far.

Why is the elected District Attorney trying this case personally? My guess: This is his stepping stone to a run for Congress or Governor. He is a very fluid speaker, he's got a powerpoint going but he's not using notes. His speech is free of "ums" and "ahs," and his tone is modulated and conversational. I didn't see the beginning so I can't tell what his theme is. He doesn't use trilogies to continually bring it home. Instead, he's doing a chronological presentation. [More...]

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James Holmes Trial Begins Over Aurora Theater Shootings

There will be two people fighting for their lives in court this week: James Holmes, the Aurora Shooting suspect who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose defense team will start their case for life. Both begin Monday morning.

I'm curious to see what witnesses the defense will call for Jahar. I'd like to see his friend Junes Umarov testify for him. I'm sure they've canvassed the friends and neighbors for anyone who can say Tamerlan dominated him and he did whatever he asked. I think we may see some teachers in the early grades, a sports coach, and some high school friends to say this was all out of character from him.

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Jury Picked for James Holmes in Aurora Theatre Shooting Case

After 3 months and 9,000 candidates, the jury has been picked for James Holmes in the Aurora Shooting case.

Interestingly, there are two members who have direct ties to the Columbine shootings in 1999.

Juror No. 737, fled the building safely, but was childhood friends with the gunmen and went to prom with a victim.

He told the judge that after a decade of therapy "to get over it" he thought he could be fair and that the experience might make him a better juror.

A second juror has a niece who was in the cafeteria at Columbine at the time of the shootings. [More...]

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Fox News Reporter Loses NY Appeal re: Holmes Leaks

A NY appeals court has ruled Fox News reporter Jana Winter can be compelled to testify in the James Holmes murder case in Colorado (background here). It did not rule she had to give up the law enforcement sources who leaked information to her -- that will be up to the Colorado judge to decide. NY has a more expansive reporters' shield law than Colorado. In Colorado, reporters have qualified, not absolute immunity.

You can read the opinion here. Two justices dissented, which means Winter can appeal to a higher NY court.

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3,500 Jurors May Be Called for James Holmes Case

The judge in the Aurora Theater shooting case of James Holmes wrote in an order yesterday that 3,500 prospective jurors may be called for his trial. The order, which grants the defense request for a questionnaire to be submitted to jurors in advance of trial, is here.

He noted that the Prosecution had not yet responded to the request, but even if they did and opposed it, he'd use a questionnaire anyway. [More...]

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James Holmes Pleads Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

The judge presiding over the criminal case of James Holmes, accused of the Aurora theater shootings, has accepted Holmes' plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Today was the deadline for the filing of non-capital motions. The defense filed a slew of them. They are available here.

One motion gives notice the defense will move for a change of venue before trial. In other pleadings, it asks that the jury be sequestered during jury selection and that non-English speaking jurors be allowed to serve (and that the court provide translators.) [More...]

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The Cost of James Holmes Death Penalty Prosecution

Interesting segment last night on Fox News 31 (Denver) on the cost to taxpayers of prosecuting Aurora Theater Shooting defendant James Holmes as a death penalty case. It explains the cost is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars. It brings up the Nathan Dunlap case, brought by the same office. Dunlap was recently scheduled for execution in August and a petition for clemency is pending. The cost of his case so far: $18 million.

It also points out that the D.A. turned down Holmes' offer to plead guilty and accept life without parole. I kept waiting for some former DA to come on and attempt to justify the decision to seek the death penalty. It didn't happen. Maybe they couldn't find anyone to take the other side.

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James Holmes Wants to Change Plea to Not Guilty (Insanity)

Lawyers for Aurora theater shooting defendant James Holmes notified the Court today Holmes wants to change his plea from Not Guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.

On March 12, the date set for arraignment, Holmes' lawyers refused to enter a plea for him, so the Judge entered a plea of Not Guilty over their objections.

In an order today, the Judge indicates it's not for certain he'll allow the change of plea. The statute says an insanity plea must be raised at the arraignment. However, it also says that for good cause shown, an insanity plea can be entered at any time prior to trial. [More...]

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DA Seeks Death Penalty for James Holmes

Arapahoe County District Attorney, recently elected George Brauchler, has advised the Court his office will seek the death penalty against James Holmes, charged with the Aurora theater killings.

Chief Judge William Sylvester's response: He assigned the case to another judge due to the amount of resources that will be necessary now that the death penalty is being sought. [More...]

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DA Rejects James Holmes Offer to Plead to Life Without Parole

There will be a hearing Monday in the James Holmes Aurora shootings case. Monday is the date by which the District Attorney is expected to announce whether he will seek the death penalty. According to a recent defense filing republished by the Denver Post, Holmes offered to plead guilty before his arraignment earlier this month and accept a sentence of life without parole.

Prosecutors dispute the defense made an "unconditional" offer to plead guilty and object to the defense referencing its "purported" offer in a court pleading. It appears from the DA's response that they wanted information from Holmes before deciding whether to take the death penalty off the table. The DA says Holmes has refused to provide the requested information, thus it does not consider his offer to be a true offer. I don't get the state's position at all. [More...]

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Fox Reporter Fights Subpoena in James Holmes Case

Fox News reporter Jana Winter, who has been battling a subpoena to appear and testify about her source of information for an early article on the James Holmes case which contained court-restricted information, is scheduled to appear in court Monday pursuant to a defense subpoena. On Wednesday, the Court denied her latest request for an extension. The Court wrote: [More....]

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James Holmes: No Insanity Plea Yet

Defense lawyers for James Holmes in the Aurora theater case refused to enter a plea today, saying they needed more time. The judge denied the request for a continuance and entered a not guilty plea for Holmes. He can still change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity at a later date.

KUSA was allowed to take video of the proceedings but no audio capture was permitted. The Denver Post was granted permission to have a still camera in the courtroom and photos are here.

Holmes parents were in the courtroom. The judge set trial for August, 2013.

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James Holmes: Insanity Plea Subject to Truth and Drug Testing

James Holmes, the alleged Aurora Theater shooter, will enter a plea tomorrow. He is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense filed a lot of motions objecting to the procedure that will be followed, but the Judge denied them (Order here.)

Today the court issued its proposed advisement form for entering plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. You can read it here.

Of note, is paragraph 13, which will require Holmes, if asked, to submit to a "narcoanalytic interview." [More...]

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Defense Says No Plea Entry for James Holmes Friday

Update 1/11/13: The Judge continued the arraignment until March.

Update: The Judge has written a 62 page order finding probable cause and stating tomorrow's hearing, which previously was set to be a status hearing or arraignment, is now procedurally an arraignment, even though the defense is unlikely to enter a plea.

The hearing scheduled for January 11, 2013, at 9:00a.m. is HEREBY converted to an arraignment. This Court recognizes that the defense, in their Objection to Expanded Media Coverage (D-25), is requesting that the matter be set for a status hearing. This Court believes that procedurally it should be an arraignment, but notes, based on D-25, that the defense is likely to request a continuance of this arraignment and that the People should be on notice for Victims' Bill of Rights purposes.
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