Spotlight in Aurora theater shooting trial shifts to jury

Jurors typically remain out of the limelight for the duration of even the most high profile trials. This week, however, the identity of one juror was revealed by Newsweek and another drew attention for inappropriate attire.

Colorado Judicial Department/AP
In this image taken from Colorado Judicial Department video, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes (top left) sits in Arapahoe County District Court, where his trial continued Thursday, in Centennial, Colo. The afternoon saw the conclusion of part one of the penalty phase of the trial of Holmes, with Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. (top right) reading the jury's decision that Holmes is eligible for the death penalty.

As the jury in the Colorado theater shooting trial unanimously decided that the death penalty can be considered for convicted gunman James Holmes, a series of events have called attention to the important role the jury plays in allowing a case to move forward smoothly. 

On Monday a judge banned Newsweek magazine from attending the remainder of the trial after the magazine identified one of the jurors on its Twitter account. The juror in question told the judge that Newsweek’s revelation was “not cool.”

While some speculated that the juror would be removed from the jury after being “outed,” ultimately the judge opted to allow him to stay since he had not read the story that included his name.

In a separate incident, an alternate juror called attention to himself by sporting a Metallica T-shirt during Thursday’s hearing with an image of a man being electrocuted emblazoned across the front.

The alternate juror later told the judge that he was not trying to make a statement, and that he had just grabbed the shirt on his way out of the house because he was late. Alternate jurors do not decide on a sentence unless another juror cannot continue, a possibility that has been flirted with several times over the past week.   

On Friday, the day’s sentence hearing was cancelled altogether because one of the jurors fell ill.

Although an illness could also potentially require that the juror be replaced, attorneys on both sides said that they preferred not to dismiss her at such a late date in the trial. Instead, the judge requested that the sentence hearing be resumed on Monday.

Mr. Holmes has been convicted of 165 counts of murder and other crimes. Prosecutors and the defense will continue to make their case to the jury next week. The sentencing portion of the trial is expected to last about a month.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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