LIVE: Aurora theater shooting trial – Tuesday notes from court

Five more jurors released this morning. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. says it feels like 'Groundhog Day.' More to come.

Notes from Reporter Brandon Johansson, in Arapahoe County district court during jury selection for the Aurora theater shooting trial of James Holmes:

2:20 p.m.

CENTENNIAL | Court adjourned around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Aurora theater shooting trial.

Unlike during previous sessions, the two sides didn’t announce a list of jurors that they agreed should be released this afternoon. Earlier in the day, 70 jurors were released, bringing the total to 454.

Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. again cautioned the two sides to be as reasonable as possible when it comes to releasing jurors during this initial phase. During the next phase, when lawyers interview individual prospective jurors, Samour said it is important that the remaining pool not be too large.

“In the end we can only speak to so many individuals,” he said.

Court is scheduled to resume at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday.

1:40 p.m.

CENTENNIAL | Five more jurors were released Tuesday afternoon in the Aurora theater shooting trial, but lawyers for James Holmes balked at releasing two others.

In one case, a juror said she is 34 weeks pregnant and in her previous pregnancies delivered her baby around this time frame. Prosecutors agreed to release the woman, but lawyers for accused gunman James Holmes said the woman should have to stay to at least fill out the juror questionnaire.

Another juror brought a note from his doctor saying he has “psychiatric issues” and should not serve on the jury. Again, prosecutors said the man should be released but the defense said he should fill out the questionnaire.

The defense has been more reluctant to release jurors before they fill out the questionnaire than the prosecution has.

Among the five released this afternoon, three said they didn’t speak any English and a fourth brought proof that they weren’t a citizen.

The fifth person released was a juror who knew Alex Sullivan, one of 12 people killed during the July 2012 shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater. That juror said they also knew a guard in the jail who worked near Holmes’ cell.

Two other jurors — one who had a daughter in an adjacent theater at the Century Aurora 16 that night and another who helped fundraise for a victim — told the judge about their connections to the case but were not released.

Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. is reading the introductory remarks to jurors now and the two sides will reconvene shortly before 2 p.m.

11:13 a.m. 

AURORA | The Colorado Attorney General’s Office is asking the judge in the Aurora theater shooting trial to quash a subpoena the defense sent to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

In a motion filed last week and unsealed Tuesday, state lawyers said the defense subpoenaed Laura Nelson of CDLE to appear in court in February to discuss “unemployment insurance issues.” Details about those issues were redacted from the motion.

Privacy laws bar CDLE employees from discussing details about unemployment insurance, according to the motion.

Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. has not ruled on the motion. When he announced it in court Tuesday morning, the defense said they had only just received the motion and the prosecution said they had not yet seen it.

The defense and prosecution are due in court again at 1 p.m. to continue jury selection.

10 a.m.

CENTENNIAL | Another 60 jurors were released from the Aurora theater shooting trial Tuesday, bringing the total to 449 released since jury selection started last week.

The 60 released Tuesday morning were part of a group that the prosecution and defense agreed to release after reviewing their questionnaires. Five others were released earlier Tuesday for language, residency issues or because they have a relative connected to the case.

Samour continued to hold a strict standard for who can be released before filling out the questionnaire, or before the two sides have a chance to discuss their answers to the questionnaire.

One juror told the court they had been a kidnapping victim and said filling out the questionnaire was traumatic. Samour said the juror told the court they could not be impartial and was crying and visibly shaken while filling out the questionnaire. Court staff let them go home without completing the form, but the juror wasn’t immediately released.

Another juror is mostly deaf and had a note from her doctor, but Samour and court staff asked her to try her best to fill out the questionnaire before letting her go.

Samour released one juror Tuesday who said his niece’s son was grazed by a bullet that night in the theater, but only after the prosecutor who specializes in witness issues reviewed the name of the prospective juror and their niece’s son.

All of that comes after a juror who showed up drunk to court wasn’t released Monday and instead ordered to come back another day.

Prosecutors have been more inclined to release jurors so far than Holmes’ lawyers have been. One prospective juror said she is pregnant and due in September, and that her sister’s boyfriend was in the theater that night. District Attorney George Brauchler said he didn’t object to releasing her, but Holmes’ lawyers asked that she fill out the questionnaire before being released.

9 a.m. 

CENTENNIAL | The sixth day of jury selection in the Aurora theater shooting trial started Tuesday morning with five more jurors being released.

Two jurors were excused because they no longer live in Arapahoe County, two because they don’t speak English and one because he is related to one of the victims in the case.

That brings the total released to 389 since jury selection started Jan. 20.

Tuesday’s session started the way the previous four did, with the two sides meeting briefly to discuss miscellaneous issues before the prospective jurors came in.

“It’s starting to feel a little bit like Groundhog Day,” Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said.

A record number of prospective jurors — 148 — reported for Tuesday’s session, a crowd that required court staff to grab some extra chairs at the start.

“We’ve got a lot of folks here, the courtroom is full,” Samour said before delivering his opening remarks to the prospective jurors.

Accused shooter James Holmes appeared in court wearing a light-colored button-up shirt and dark pants.

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