Aurora theater shooting trial: Three jurors dismissed over hearing media reports

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CENTENNIAL | Three jurors in the Colorado theater shooting trial were dismissed Tuesday amid concern they violated orders not to talk about media coverage of the case.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. first dismissed two jurors, including a woman who says her husband called her and told her about a tweet about the case from the district attorney.

The judge then dismissed a third juror who might have heard discussion about news reports on the case. A total of 21 jurors and alternates remain.

The issue came to light earlier in the day when a fourth juror told Samour that she heard a juror talking about the trial on two previous occasions.

The judge was concerned that none of the other jurors came forward in James Holmes’ high-profile trial. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to opening fire on a crowded theater in 2012. He killed 12 people and injured 70.

Under questioning from Samour, one juror said she got a call from her husband during lunch last week. She said the phone was on speaker at the time, and he asked her about a tweet by District Attorney George Brauchler while another juror was sitting next to her.

The juror said she didn’t ask about what the tweet said and noted the two argued because she knew she wasn’t supposed to discuss the case.

When asked why she didn’t report the incident, she responded: “I just really don’t pay attention to my husband most of the time. So it wasn’t really important, at that time.”

Brauchler was reprimanded last week for tweeting about the case during proceedings.

It took nearly three months to choose the jury after 9,000 summonses were sent. A total of 24 jurors and alternates were seated in the case. None of them will know if they’ll be among the 12 to decide the case until deliberations are about to begin. At that point, the remaining alternates will be dismissed.

The judge chose a high number so there would be plenty of alternates to replace anyone who had to be dismissed for health or other reasons.

Jurors are allowed to go home every night, but they are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone or see or read anything about it.

Also Tuesday. the sister of the defendant appeared in court for the second consecutive day.

Chris Holmes was first in court Monday, sitting between her parents in the public gallery just behind her brother. As Tuesday’s hearing began, the defense team apologized to the judge and said they had mistakenly informed her she could be in court even though she may later be called as a witness. Chris Holmes left and after consulting with prosecutors, who said they had no objection to her presence, Samour said she could return.