Profile of the Jurors in the Holmes Trial

 

 

 

 

I’m getting down the wire on the publication of the book and have spent the last two week working on the final details. Place your orders now for first editions!

Welcome back. This week I’m taking you back to last Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Centennial, Colorado on what is called “media row” where all the writers, TV journalists and any other type of reporter are supposed to park, the day started out cool with clear skies. Journalists from around the world gathered for closing arguments by attorneys in the trial of movie theater shooter James Holmes and I hope you enjoy my take on how it went.

I arrived at the Arapahoe County Courthouse on Monday in hopes of getting a seat in the courtroom and I was lucky enough to find myself sitting just 14 feet away from Holmes with his mother and father in between us. This would be my assigned seat for as long as the proceedings lasted.

I also had a direct view of the jury which was seated to my right. If they all agreed that Holmes is insane he would go directly to a state mental institution. If they decided he is legally competent at the minimum he faced life in prison or possibly execution. From a prospective pool of literally thousands of people, the pool had been narrowed to 93 people, then to 24 and now it was down to 12 actual jurors.

Judge Carlos Samour, Jr. wanted three assurances from the jurors:

That they could presume James Holmes innocent of all 165 charges against him-not just grant him the presumption of insanity

That they were capable of disregarding any information about the case reported in the media

That if Holmes were found guilty of first degree murder they would be able to fairly consider either sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole or giving him the death penalty

After reviewing over 1500 photographs and listening to the testimony of 250 witnesses and 10 psychiatrists this jury faced a monumental task.

I had the opportunity to do some early research on the background of these folks and though the judge has ordered that no names be released, I can give you a general profile of each juror. During the trial several jurors were dismissed so the numbers are not sequential:

Seat 1: A white woman in her 40s who works as a union plumber and has 2 children

Seat 2: A white woman in her 50s who is a lawyer

Seat 3: An Hispanic woman in her mid-twenties who volunteers for victim advocacy groups

Seat 5: A white woman in her 50s whose niece was in the Columbine High School cafeteria at the time of those shootings

Seat 6: A white woman in her 40s who stated that her son has a drug addiction

Seat 11: A white woman about 60 with a psychology degree whose son and son-in-law both work in law enforcement

Seat 13: A white woman in her 50s who has been a paramedic for 20 years

Seat 14: A white man in his 40s who said he knew very little about the Aurora shootings because he had been living in California at the time

Seat 15: A white man in his 30s who is the manager of a Bed, Bath & Beyond

Seat 17: A white man in his 30s who is a survivor of the Columbine shootings

Seat 21: An Hispanic woman in her 30s whose son is bipolar

Seat 23: A white woman in her mid-40s who expressed an interest in hearing testimony from Holmes’ parents

These are the 12 people who would decide Holmes’ verdict and as you all know by now, they found him guilty. However last Tuesday, with 165 counts against him, a decision was very much up in the air.

I attended the beginning of the Holmes trial some 70 days ago and so I have had the chance to observe Holmes 10 to 12 times. His demeanor has always been the same, only his clothes changed. He sat staring straight ahead often with a slight smile. He didn’t speak but occasionally laughed, seemingly at himself.

There were some preliminary statements on Tuesday morning before the jury was brought in so everyone present knew we were in for a long day.   The prosecution went first, and with a two hour limit imposed by the judge, they opened with a summary of the facts in the case. Standing less than four feet in front of Holmes, the prosecutor pointed to him and told the jury that he was the guy who had killed all these people in a methodically planned and premeditated attack.

In the defense’s statement they responded that yes, Holmes had killed and in fact wants to kill again.

A 25 minute rebuttal by the prosecutor followed, again hammering on the premediated aspects of the attacks. There was a live TV feed from the courtroom through this portion of the trial so millions of people were able to watch the proceedings. For you readers who may not have seen it, I hope I have given you a little insight into what went on.

I’ll end this week with a few interesting facts:

It is estimated that the cost for the trial of James Holmes is now over $5,000,000. It cost $20,000 alone to print the notices and questionnaires for the original pool of 9,000 prospective jurors. According to Yahoo News in 2013 Holmes offered to forfeit the trial in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole if he could escape the death penalty.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….

 

 

 

 

Hall of Fame High School Football Coach Jerry Potter

In preparation for the publication of Footprints in the Dew I am scheduling book signings across the country. Please let me know if you are interested or have any contacts. For book ordering information check out the home page of this website.

Welcome back. Whenever I’m traveling, as I am now in Colorado, it gives me the time to get caught up on interesting stories that I haven’t properly covered and this is one of them.

On a recent visit to Oklahoma City, someone mentioned the Putnam City High School football team and a big winning streak they had had during the 1970s. I didn’t remember much about this so I did a little digging and in the process I discovered a legend with close ties to Bartlesville.

Jerry Potter took over as head coach of the Putnam City team in 1965 and by the end of his high school tenure his record stood at 171-67-8 and he had become known as the father of the Putnam City program. With Potter as coach, the school won three state championships and in 1977 the team was undefeated when they played Putnam City West for the championship. It was standing room only at Taft Stadium on the night of the game. Coach Potter retired after that 1977 game with a 21-14 win in overtime. Many people consider this to be the greatest game ever played in Oklahoma High School football.

Pro Football Hall of Famer and former State Representative Steve Largent played for Potter and he has said publically on several occasions that his old coach “altered the landscape of my life.” As a young boy Largent had an absentee father and Potter became his mentor and role model both on and off the field.

Kent Bradford is another of Potter’s former players who credits the coach’s influence for the success he has experienced in life. After graduating from Putnam City, Braford went on to be an offensive lineman at OU and father of Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.

Former players were not the only ones to honor Coach Potter. In 1980 he was inducted into the National, yes that’s National, High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Another bit of amazing information I found was the number of his past players who went on to become successful coaches themselves. Dennis Evans is one example who became quite well known in high school football and gives Potter all the credit for his success and the success of dozens of others.

With such an outstanding record of accomplishment, I was curious as to what drove Coach Potter. Through my research I learned that he dropped out of high school in 1943 to join the Marines where he served as a tail gunner during World War II. In 1945 he returned to high school and then went on to Cameron University and Oklahoma City University, playing football at both schools.

Usually when I discover a person as interesting as Jerry Potter I contact them and ask for an interview but unfortunately this story doesn’t end that way. On Sunday June 21, 2015 the front page of the Oklahoman carried the sad news that both Coach Potter and beloved broadcaster Bob Berry, Jr. had both died. As you may know, Berry was killed in a motorcycle accident and Potter died of health problems. As for me, I know I can’t interview everyone but I am sure sad that I missed out on Coach Jerry Potter.

Moving down the road, I hope to be back in town for the Children’s Musical Theater production of Mary Poppins at the Bartlesville Community Center which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. I caught a preview of the show this past week and let me tell you it was great! This is the much loved story of a magical English nanny, Mary Poppins, and her adventures with the Banks children. The story originated with a series of books by P.J. Travers and was later adapted for the movies by Walt Disney. In 2004 the story became the basis for a musical on Broadway and has since been performed around the world.

As many of you readers know, I have been hanging out in New York and have had the chance to see a lot of shows and folks these kids have talent. I plan on going and hope to see ya there. With that, from Denver, Colorado, till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………..

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James Holmes Trial

Tuesday, July 14, 2015: From where I sat in the Arapahoe County courtroom, I was just 14 feet from James Holmes with a clear view of him. He was unshaven and wearing glasses. Throughout the proceedings I saw he seldom spoke with anyone, not even his attorneys. From time to time he smiled or laughed, seemingly out of touch with what is going on around him.

After closing arguments by both the prosecution and the defense and then a rebuttal by the prosecution the case went to the jury at 6:15 p.m. They will begin deliberations at 9 a.m. this morning.

Jury Duty and the James Holmes Trial

I’m back on the road, headed for Colorado where I hope to make some contacts for my project at the James Holmes trial.

Welcome back. The date was May 15, 2015 and I had been ordered by the District Court of Washington County to appear at suite 100 on the 3rd floor of the Washington County Courthouse at 420 South Johnstone in Bartlesville for what would be a very interesting two days. This week I am bringing you the story of those two days. Over the last few years I may have had more experience with courtrooms than the average person, including last August when I was at the federal courthouse in Boston where mobster Whitey Bulger was brought to justice after an eight week trial. I also attended the trial of Eddie Ray Routh who was convicted of murdering Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield in a small county courtroom in Stephenville, Texas. I myself have been called to testify before a multi-county grand jury in Oklahoma City. Most recently I sat in on the opening arguments in the trial of James Holmes, the so-called “movie theater shooter” in Colorado.

My courthouse summons did not have the drama of these cases but with patriotism running high over the 4th of July I think this is an appropriate topic to consider. My summons to jury service, or jury duty as it’s commonly called, required that I appear at 8:30 am and when I got there I found the 3rd floor packed with potential jurors. For the next several hours Judge Curtis Delapp read our instructions according to the law. Through my own research I had already learned how important jury duty is to our justice system. Every person charged with” a crime punishable by incarceration for more than six months has a constitutional right to a trial by jury”. (United States District Court –Northern District of Oklahoma Jury Plan)

If you are a citizen of the United States you must appear when summoned for service and if you do not a judge may find you in contempt of court. I learned that you cannot lose your job during jury duty and that you may be excused if a trial is going to last for a long time. Jurors and prospective jurors also receive a daily stipend of $20.

At the age of 64, this was my first time to be called and I was anxious to learn more about the process. As the judge reviewed the rules with all of us things started to get personal and one by one potential jurors were released. By the end of the day I was still there and the next appearance was going to be in the jury box as the selection narrowed down to twenty-four of us. First we were questioned by the asistant District Attorney Will Drake and then by the defendant’s attorney. More people were excused after each series of questions.

By now I had cleared my mind. The man in this case was innocent until proven guilty, I got that. Then we came to a round of questions about who our friends were and what knowledge we had of either the assistant D.A. Drake or his boss, D.A. Kevin Buchanan. As an avid newspaper reader I knew of both men and I had also personally supported Mr. Buchanan during his election campaign. I don’t know if this made any difference but soon after I was released from service with a warning that that I might be called back again. It was a firsthand experience with our rights and responsibilities as citizens of this great country and I hope to get the chance to serve in the future.

Moving forward I’ve just received word from Denver, CO that the trial of James Holmes should be wrapping up by the beginning of next week and if the river don’t rise I’ll be there. My experience has been that juries tend to come back quickly in these cases where the defendant had already plead guilty and I anticipate that the same thing could happen in this instance. Stay tuned to my website for more details.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road……

 

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope you all will have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I am grateful for your support of my project and to all of you who have ordered advance first edition copies of Footprints in the Dew. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, visit the homepage of this website (www.originalbuffalodale.com) to order.

Tulsa Shock and Bill Laimbeer

I hope you will get a chance to catch a WNBA game at the BOK Center!

Welcome back. Known as a thug in his chosen profession yet loved by many of his fans, at 6’11” and 245 pounds he goes his own way in life and says what he thinks. A two time NBA champion, elected to the NBA All Star team four times and the all-around rebounding champion in 1986 with his number four jersey retired, Bill Laimbeer has done just about everything in the sport of basketball. Bill, as fans call him, was in Tulsa Friday night coaching his WNBA New York Liberty team against the Tulsa Shock.

If you don’t know about professional women’s basketball in Tulsa, its great fun and with the Shock on a winning streak it’s starting to catch on around here. Home games are played at the BOK Center where I found plenty of parking close to the facility and a welcoming staff ready to get you where you needed to go and bring you whatever you wanted. As soon as I entered the building I knew I was in for a good time. The hallways were packed with kids’ games and inflatables, there was live music playing and plenty of food vendors on hand for very taste.  On the court a variety of acts kept the crowd entertained until tip-off when things got serious.

The Tulsa Shock is out to win a championship and after watching them demolish big bad Bill’s Liberty team I think they might just do it. For you true basketball junkies, some of the names on this team may sound familiar. At center is the first ever four time Associated Press All American from the University of Oklahoma, Courtney Paris. Courtney is leading the league in rebounding for the second year in a row and watching her is worth the price of a ticket alone.

At guard from Notre Dame where she set records in scoring and steals as well as assists, Skylar Diggins is already a legend and thanks to her Tulsa leads the league in three point shooting. Fan favorite Jordan Hopper had the crowd going with her long range three point shots and 5’7” Riquna Williams, who holds the WNBA record for the most points scored in a game (51), is quick and fearless, no matter how big her opponent is. Helping Courtney with rebounding is 6’5” Amanda Zahul B. from Stockholm, Sweden who is also a great shot. Rounding out this explosive team are the other outstanding players, Odyssey Sims, Brianna Kiesel, Jessica Kuster, Tiffany Jackson Jones, Karima Christmas, Theresa Plaisance, Vicki Baugh, Glory Johnson-Griner and last but not least, Plenette Pierson. Pierson is another fan favorite and a personal favorite of mine.  A thirteen year veteran, this 6’2” Texas Tech graduate has seen it all. Signed as a free agent, she is second in minutes played, second in rebounding and third in points scored per game for the team. With her years of experience, Pierson brings depth to the Shock and her energy seems boundless.

I’ll end this leg of my column with my scoop of the week: Shock President Steve Swetoha and head coach Fred Williams have something special going on this year. If you are looking for some great entertainment at reasonable prices you need to check out a Shock’s game.

Another highlight of my week was Thursday evening which I spent on the top floors of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower at Copper Restaurant and the Inn at Price Tower. I was joined by many friends and readers for a pre-publication gathering for my book Footprints in the Dew. Several of the guests remembered watching the Price Tower as it was built and seeing the furniture being hoisted through the windows. I was lucky enough to spend the night in the Penthouse Suite which offers every creature comfort and some amazing views of Bartlesville.

Pre-publication book orders were brisk and I appreciate everyone’s support. For more information about the Shock visit their website www.shock.wnba.com . If you are interested in the book check out www.originalbuffalodale.com

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road….

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