CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Some claimed new hardship. Others claimed a change of heart about their ability to be impartial. Some voiced claims the judge felt were credible. Others shed what the judge felt were crocodile tears.
Regardless, even after excusing 19 potential jurors during the first day of group questioning in the Aurora theater shooting case on Monday, the presiding Arapahoe County District court still had 93 potential jurors remaining to fill 24 seats in the final stage of jury selection, which will conclude Tuesday.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on April 27.
District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. would like to proceed to trial with 12 jurors and 12 alternates. However, he indicated on Monday he could take as few as eight alternate jurors if need be.
Among the 93 potential jurors still remaining after Monday's session was a husband-and-wife duo, the first such duo Samour said he has ever seen in a jury pool. Samour indicated the court would only keep one of them, and when pressed by the judge, the wife indicated it would be easiest on their family if her husband was retained.
The woman added "sorry honey," before making that statement
The court will begin the final day of jury selection on Tuesday with questioning from Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and Tamara Brady, one of the lead defense attorneys for James Holmes, the admitted gunman in the July 2012 shooting at the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" at Century 16 theaters in Aurora.
In total, 12 were killed and 70 were injured in the shooting, and Holmes faces 166 counts in the case, all of which were details by the Samour over the course of almost two hours on Monday.
Brauchler and Brady will each get 75 respective minutes to question the jurors as a group. After that, Brauchler will get a chance to use as many of his 22 peremptory strikes as he pleases. Then Brady will do the same. These strikes allow the lawyers to eliminate whatever jurors they please, no questions asked.
When a peremptory strike is used, the next juror in chronological order will be called to fill the vacated seat. After their first turns, the prosecution and defense will alternate utilizing peremptory strikes until the court has 12 jurors and a satisfactory number of alternate jurors.
There were three jurors retained after individual questioning, which concluded on April 10, who failed to appear for group questioning Monday. One of those jurors claimed to have no access to a phone or email. Samour did not give any indication if the court would pursue that juror or the other two no-shows for contempt of court.
Among the 19 jurors who were dismissed Monday morning included a middle-aged white male whose credibility the judge called into question.
When asked if he knew anyone with a connection to the case, the man told the court in individual questioning that the only such person he knew was his friend's son, who he said had been in the adjoining theater at the time of the shooting. When he was called back for group questioning, the man said his friend's son had actually been in the fifth row of the theater where the shooting took place.
The same juror also said that after he left his individual questioning session, he came to realize he actually knew a grandparent of Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the 6-year-old girl who was killed in the shooting. The juror cried when explaining his relationship with Moser-Sullivan's grandparent, and in the midst of that emotion, his excusal was agreed upon by both the prosecution and the defense
After the juror left the courtroom, Samour wondered about the man's changing story on one front and his epiphany about a relationship with a victim's family on the other. But since both counsels agreed to dismiss him, the judge said he would not stand in the way of the juror's excusal.
Other jurors presented excuses that Samour seemed to deem viable, including one who said she had recently been diagnosed with spinal cancer and another who said he had been placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold after making a suicide threat following a fight with his wife.