CENTENNIAL, Colo. — It was a long, grueling process that has finally come to an end. And because of the extensive amount of time the Arapahoe County District Court spent with each of the final 24 jurors seated for the Aurora theater shooting case on April 14, those present for the open courtroom sessions were privy to a bevy of information about those who will be deciding this case.
FOX31 was in the courtroom for the great majority of that process, from the first day thousands of jurors began filling out questionnaires in January up until Tuesday, when a group of 93 jurors was cut down to 24 on the final day of group questioning.
During the trial, five jurors were dismissed and on July 14, the 12 actual jurors were selected with the remaining seven serving as alternates.
It’s worth mentioning that none of the 24 jurors detailed below would have even made it to the final stage of the selection process if they had not convinced District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. that they could accomplish the following tasks:
- Presume admitted theater gunman James Holmes innocent of all 165 charges against him — not just grant him the presumption of insanity (this is in spite of the fact that Holmes has entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea in this case)
- Disregard any information about the case gleaned from media reports
- Be able to fairly consider both possible punishments in a sentencing hearing — life in prison without the possibility of parole and the death penalty — should Holmes be found guilty of first degree murder
Below is all we know and can share about this final group of 24 jurors without compromising their anonymity.
Jurors selected for deliberations
Seat 1: Juror 640 –White woman in 40s
This juror is a union plumber who will be paid for the duration of this trial. She said she doesn’t watch much news, and she has sat on a jury in a basic assault case. She has ADHD and has a family member who is bipolar. She has two kids, both of whom are in the military.
Seat 2: Juror 17 – White woman in 50s or 60s
This juror is the sole caretaker for elderly parents, but she didn’t claim that as a hardship. She is also a lawyer and a major decision maker for her business, and her business partner is about to go on leave. But she didn’t claim that as a hardship, either. She thinks the death penalty should be used sparingly. She initially had trouble granting admitted theater shooter James Holmes the presumption of innocence, saying it’s a well-known fact he is the shooter, but she said she could set that opinion aside to be an impartial juror.
Seat 3: Juror 329 –Hispanic woman in 20s or 30s
This juror told the court that mental illness affects all people in different ways. She was a victim of some kind of crime in her youth, but she did not go into detail about it. She had been a volunteer victim’s advocate, and she has also worked at a state detox center. Like Juror 17, she also initially had difficulty with the idea of granting Holmes the presumption of innocence, but she ultimately said she could set that opinion aside.
Seat 5: Juror 535 – White woman in 50s
This juror has a niece who was in the cafeteria during the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Her sister – that niece’s mother – has called Holmes a coward. A store this juror used to manage is near the Century 16 theater, where Holmes opened fire in July 2012. This woman was once married to a police officer. After her divorce from that man, she said she ended up in a psychiatric ward, where she interacted with many individuals who suffered from mental illness. This woman has had a spinal infusion and uses a spinal stimulator, and the court said it will make accommodations for her. She said she would have to cancel a pre-planned trip to Disney World with her grandchildren, but other than that she claimed no hardship.
Seat 6: Juror 87 – White woman in 40s or 50s
This juror has a son with a drug addiction, and she said she has also dealt with depression in her life. She said she used to believe in the idea of “an eye for an eye” as a stance on the death penalty, but she said her stance on that penalty has evolved and become less severe.
Seat 11: Juror 118 – White woman in 60s or 70s
This juror has a psychology degree and said she did some work in a mental health ward. However, she currently uses another degree she has in math for her current employer, who will pay her salary for the entirety of this trial. Her son is a correctional officer, and her ex son-in-law is a deputy. Because of what her son has told her, she said she knows “prison isn’t a pleasant place where you go to watch TV and play video games.” She said she gives her kids the benefit of the doubt, and she’d do the same for Holmes as a juror. She said background has a sincere impact on people, so she would want to hear about how Holmes was raised.
Seat 13: Juror 378 – White woman in 50s or 60s
This juror retired recently after spending 20 years as a paramedic – a profession where she often had contact with the mentally ill. She followed the emergency scanner traffic as law enforcement was searching Holmes’ booby-trapped apartment following the July 2012 shooting. She also once thwarted a break-in at her roommate’s apartment.
Seat 14: Juror 155 – White man in 40s or 50s
This juror only recently moved to Colorado and was living in California at the time of the July 2012 shooting. This man was one of three jurors, according to the defense, who has not been exposed to any media coverage about this case. In fact, when questioned, this juror didn’t even know how many victims had been killed. In regard to the death penalty, the man said he didn’t lean one way or the other.
Seat 15: Juror 527 – White man in 30s
We know relatively little about this juror aside from the fact that he is a manager at a Bed, Bath and Beyond. He said he would have no problem giving Holmes the presumption of innocence and has no strong feelings about the death penalty one way or the other.
Seat 17: Juror 737 – White man in 30s
This juror is a survivor of the Columbine shooting. Not only did he go to a school dance with one of the victims who was killed in shooting, he said he was friends at one point in time with both shooters. He said he has gone through extensive therapy to get past the trauma he suffered and said a wave of doubt hit him when he got his jury summons for this case. But he said his experiences with that tragedy would make him an expert juror in this case, as he said he knows about the horror the shooting caused as well as the mental health struggles both shooters faced.
Seat 21: Juror 557 – Hispanic woman in 30s or 40s
This juror has a bipolar son, and she said simply having a mental illness such as that would never be an excuse to commit a crime. In particular, the woman said she felt there is a big difference between struggling in certain situations and being insane. The woman said she has an opinionated husband she would have to avoid during her jury service, but other than that and a May vacation that could be rescheduled, she would have no hardship.
Seat 23: Juror 311 – White woman in 40s or 50s
This juror said the death penalty would be most appropriate for serial killers, but she said she generally sits in the middle in regard to her views on that penalty. She also said she views life in prison as a very harsh sentence. She was one of few jurors who specifically said she would like to hear from Holmes’ parents if the trial proceeded to a sentencing hearing. She also said she thought it would be hard to consider Holmes insane given the level of premeditation in this case, but she ultimately said that is an opinion she can set aside.
Jurors selected as alternates
Seat 4: Juror 661 – White woman in 40s
This juror works as a dental instructor, and she is a member of a union that guarantees her pay through the length of the trial. Her daughter attended the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” on the night of the shooting but at a different theater. The defense unsuccessfully tried to remove her from the jury pool because of her strong stance in support of the death penalty, which she ultimately said she would set aside to serve on this jury.
Seat 10: Juror 1009 – White woman in 40s or 50s
This juror revealed relatively little about herself in individual questioning. She made the reason for her relative secrecy clear in group questioning, when she volunteered to the court that she has major concerns about her privacy in this case and whether the media will respect it. In an effort to honor her wishes, these are the only details about this juror we will reveal.
Seat 12: Juror 983 – White man in 30s
We know relatively little about this juror, aside from the fact that he said in group questioning that he feels he could be fair and impartial as a juror. He also said he would need to consider all information available before making any decisions about potential guilt or a potential sentence in this case.
Seat 16: Juror 673 – White woman in 30s or 40s
This juror currently serves in the military. Her husband also serves in the military and is currently deployed. Her husband is scheduled to return in early May, and she hopes the court can take a half day so she can surprise him with the couple’s three kids. She indicated a hesitation about serving on the jury, as she is the lone caretaker for her kids when her husband is gone and she is expecting him to be sent out on another deployment soon. But she said she could ultimately find childcare if that scenario were to come to fruition.
Seat 18: Juror 706 – White woman in 70s or 80s
This juror is an Army veteran who retired after 22 years of service as an Intensive Care Unit nurse. She uses a walker and is very deliberate when she speaks. When asked how she would tackle a case as large as this one, in which Holmes faces 166 counts, she responded with an anecdote:” How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Seat 22: Juror 307 – White woman in 40s or 50s
This juror is a full-time teacher who will be compensated for the length of the trial. In particular, she works with special education students, as well as students suffering from mental illness. She has taught several students who suffer from schizophrenia. Because she works with kids, this woman said she can see both sides of every story. She said she used to have a strong stance against the death penalty, but she has grown to support it more over the years.
Seat 24: Juror 313 – White man in 50s or 60s
This juror called himself an “open-minded liberal” and currently works at a gas station. He said he won’t be paid by his employer during his jury service, but that he can survive on the $50 a day the court pays. This juror has a daughter who is bipolar and is now on medication after a suicide attempt. But even when she was not on medication, the juror said, his daughter still knew right from wrong. This juror also served as a drill sergeant in Vietnam, currently serves in the reserves and said he knows several who suffer from PTSD.
Jurors previously dismissed
Seat 7: Juror 901 – White woman in 30s or 40s
This juror is currently a graduate student studying international security. As an undergraduate, she studied criminal and constitutional law. At one point in time, she said she wanted to become a police officer. She’s now married and said she remains interested in community policing.
Seat 8: Juror 495 – White woman in 20s or 30s
This juror said she is concerned about seeing graphic images but that she could probably manage. She shed tears when talking about the idea of possibly sentencing Holmes to death, but she said could indeed impose that sentence if she felt it was warranted. The defense unsuccessfully moved to have her excused after she said she would lean toward the death penalty for anyone who killed a child, as Holmes is accused of doing in this case.
Seat 9: Juror 872 – White woman in 20s or 30s
This juror has three kids, and she also started crying when it was mentioned that Holmes is accused of killing a child in this case. She said she doesn’t watch or read the news, so she knows relatively little about this case. She said she is OK with the death penalty as it is currently utilized in Colorado, and would have no problem imposing it if this case called for it.
Seat 19: Juror 412 – White woman in 20s or 30s
This juror works at a mental health center in Aurora. She was also a member of the law enforcement division in the Air Force, where she often dealt with those suffering from mental illness. While she was stationed at a base abroad, she was the first on the scene of a crime that saw a general contractor shoot and kill his wife. Given that experience, she said she has a strong respect for first responders. This woman is also a single parent and said on one hand, she would want to kill anyone who killed her child. But on the other hand, she would want her child to get a fair trial if he or she was in Holmes’ shoes.
Seat 20: Juror 267 – Hispanic woman in 40s or 50s
This juror is an attendance clerk at a school. One of the students at her school was a survivor of the theater shooting and another is related to a survivor. She said she can understand the notion of mental illness, as she said some students at her school continue to act out in spite of all efforts made to help them.
Hsing Tseng contributed to this report