Blog Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Cost of Colorado theater shooting case exceeds $5 million months before opening arguments

    Lawyer salaries and security top expenditures, records reveal

    Top attorneys in the State of Colorado v. James Holmes. (L-R) Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson, Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Daniel King and Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Tamara Brady. (Getty Images)Top attorneys in the State of Colorado v. James Holmes. (L-R) Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson, Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Daniel King and Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Tamara Brady. (Getty Images)
    The criminal court case against Colorado theater gunman James Holmes has already absorbed at least $5.5 million in public monies, according to records obtained by Yahoo News.

    That’s $2 million more than the estimated average cost of a completed Colorado death penalty trial — and the contentious Holmes proceeding is still months away from opening arguments.

    “Keep adding it up, this isn't ending anytime soon,” said Justin Marceau, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law who has studied the costs of capital murder trials.

    Holmes first appeared in court on July 23, 2012, three days after police say he assailed a packed suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 70, as they were watching a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

    In the two and a half years since that initial court appearance, primary personnel involved with the case — prosecutors, defense attorneys, the judge, court reporter, trial investigators and victims’

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  • Meteorologist offers rare apology on Twitter for ‘big forecast miss’ on snowstorm

    Schools and city offices closed, but the record snowfall never arrived in Philadelphia. (Photo: WVPI-TV)Schools and city offices closed, but the record snowfall never arrived in Philadelphia. (Photo: WVPI-TV)
    At nightfall on Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency — ordering that parked cars be moved to clear the city's designated emergency routes ahead of what government forecasters predicted could be a “crippling” and “potentially historic” blizzard.

    Prepare for a foot to 24 inches in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they warned. The governors of both states signed disaster proclamations in advance.

    But shortly before midnight — when the snow arrived as a menace not a monster — came a mea culpa rarely seen in the meteorology world.

    Gary Szatkowski, chief of the National Weather Service office that serves Mount Holly, N.J., and Philadelphia, offered a heartfelt public apology on Twitter.

     

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  • Legal experts warn of stealth jurors infiltrating Colorado movie theater shooting trial

    Lawyer: ‘They are sworn to tell the truth, but a good liar can slip by’

    A jury pool of 7,000 will be screened at the Arapahoe County court in Centennial, Colo., to determine 12 jurors and 12 alternates in the trial of James Eagan Holmes. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)A jury pool of 7,000 will be screened at the Arapahoe County court in Centennial, Colo., to determine 12 jurors and 12 alternates in the trial of James Eagan Holmes. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)
    CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Opening day of the Colorado theater shooting trial got under way with a few hiccups: a juror who may have fallen asleep in court, three others spotted playing on their phones, and one who arrived hours early at the wrong court.

    Jury selection is no easy task, and veteran trial consultants warn of bigger challenges ahead.

    “What each side needs to worry about in this case are what's called stealth jurors … trying to sneak onto the jury because they have an agenda,” said Robert Hirschhorn, who has acted as a jury and trial consultant since 1985.

    James Holmes sat impassively Tuesday as prospective jurors heard the charges against him. (Jeff Kandyba/AP Photo)James Holmes sat impassively Tuesday as prospective jurors heard the charges against him. (Jeff Kandyba/AP Photo)James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to one of the worst mass murders in American history. Prosecutors say he ambushed a crowded suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 70, as they were watching a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012.

    The case has drawn international media attention and stoked fiery debate about the death penalty, gun control and the

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  • Jury selection begins in long-awaited Colorado theater shooting case

    A clean-cut James Holmes appears in court

    A courtroom sketch showing accused murderer James Holmes (L) sitting with Arapahoe County Public Defender Tamara Brady (C) at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colorado, USA, 20 January 2015. (EPA/JEFF KANDYBA)A courtroom sketch showing accused murderer James Holmes (L) sitting with Arapahoe County Public Defender Tamara Brady (C) at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colorado, USA, 20 January 2015. (EPA/JEFF KANDYBA)

    CENTENNIAL, Colo. — An almost unrecognizable James Holmes appeared in court on Tuesday in the death penalty case in which he is accused of a murderous rampage at a Colorado movie theater.

    Holmes — who since his July 2012 arrest has sported wild orange hair and later, mutton-chop sideburns — is now clean-cut, and he appeared in civilian clothes during an introductory hearing before jury selection, which began Tuesday afternoon.

    Several courtroom observers did a double take before they realized it was Holmes sitting at the defense table. His dark hair was neatly trimmed and was wearing pleated khaki pants, a striped button-down blue shirt, a charcoal sports jacket and tortoiseshell glasses. It was the first time Holmes has appeared in court in something other than a jail jumpsuit. He wore no cuffs on his wrists, but a hidden cable kept him tethered to the floor.

    No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, but a sketch artist was present. Those images are expected later.

    Before the hearing

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  • Why it’s taken so long to bring Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to trial

    A view inside Courtroom 201 where the Colorado theater shooting trial will take place this year. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool)A view inside Courtroom 201 where the Colorado theater shooting trial will take place this year. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool)
    When the first potential juror in Case No. 12CR1522 arrives at the Arapahoe County courthouse on Tuesday, two years, six months and a day will have passed since the defendant terrorized a packed Denver-area movie theater with guns and tear gas.

    That’s nearly three times the 12-month timetable the Supreme Court of Colorado recommends for judges to process felony criminal cases.

    “That means from arrest to sentencing in one year,” said Greg Hurley, an expert on judicial administration. But “there’s going to be some of these cases where that just can’t happen.”

    The State of Colorado v. James Eagan Holmes is unquestionably one of them.

    Since Holmes gave himself up to police minutes after killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012, there have been:

    • Five trial dates
    • Two judges
    • A request for a third judge (denied)
    • Two sanity evaluations
    • More than 1,700 motions, notices, orders and other documents filed

    “I’m

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  • Judge won’t postpone James Holmes theater shooting trial

    ‘The Court will not allow it to be unnecessarily and improperly delayed simply because it is a death penalty case,’ judge writes in order.

    Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes at a pre-trial hearing last summer. Jury selection in his death penalty case begins next week. (File photo)Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes at a pre-trial hearing last summer. Jury selection in his death penalty case begins next week. (File photo)

    The Colorado judge overseeing the James Holmes murder case on Wednesday denied an 11th-hour attempt to have the much-anticipated trial delayed again.

    With jury selection set to begin Jan. 20, Holmes’ court-appointed defense team asked the court last week for more time to sift through hundreds of pages of new evidence, among other things.

    Holmes faces the death penalty for the July 2012 rampage at a Denver-area movie theater. Twelve people were killed and 70 others injured during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Holmes, a graduate student in neuroscience at the time of the murders, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

    Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. speaks during a hearing for theater shooting suspect James Holmes in 2013. (File photo)Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. speaks during a hearing for theater shooting suspect James Holmes in 2013. (File photo)In his order, Judge Carlos Samour wrote that the defense’s request “falls short on the merits.”

    “Regardless of how ‘enormous’ this case is, the ‘unbelievable amount of information’ that must be processed and the complexity of the mental health issues involved … it is irrefutable that the defense counsel, their expert witnesses and

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  • Ferguson prosecutor: Some witnesses lied, including woman who didn’t see shooting

    Lawmaker wants official investigated for ‘prosecutorial misconduct’

    St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announces the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. (AP File)St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announces the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. (AP File)
    A woman who swore she saw teenager Michael Brown pummel Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson and charge him “like a football player,” was lying about being at the scene of the controversial police shooting, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Friday.

    “I’m sure she was nowhere near the place,” McCulloch said during a St. Louis radio interview. “She recounted the statement that was right out of the newspaper.”

    While investigators doubted her story, McCulloch said the woman was allowed to testify because “early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything would be presented to the grand jury.”

    The prosecutor’s appearance on KTRS 550-AM was his first interview since Nov. 24, when he announced that the grand jury had decided not to indict Wilson for killing Brown. The officer, who resigned his position after the ruling, says he shot in self-defense.

    Darren Wilson and Michael Brown (Facebook/AP Photo)Darren Wilson and Michael Brown (Facebook/AP Photo)McCulloch’s handling of the death of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer has been criticized from the

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  • James Holmes' parents: Theater gunman mentally ill, shouldn't be executed

    Victim says Holmes ‘absolutely not’ insane, needs to answer to the people of Colorado

    Robert and Arlene Holmes, parents of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes, arrive in court in 2013. (AP)Robert and Arlene Holmes, parents of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes, arrive in court in 2013. (AP)
    Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes is “not a monster” and should be spared a death sentence, his parents plead in their first public comments since one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

    Robert and Arlene Holmes’ two-page letter to the Denver Post editorial section was delivered by Lisa Damiani, one of the gunman’s court-appointed attorneys. The newspaper published the entire letter on Friday.

    The parents are breaking their silence as 9,000 summonses are being mailed to prospective jurors. Jury selection is scheduled for January with a trial to begin in late spring or early summer.

    Holmes, who turned 27 in jail last week, is charged with murdering a dozen people and attempting to murder 70 others inside an Aurora movie theater in July 2012. The former medical student is accused of stockpiling weapons and meticulously planning his rampage for months. Prosecutors — who are seeking the death penalty — say Holmes also wanted to kill police by leaving his Denver

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  • Ebola cases require rare dual air ambulance rescues

    Patients undergoing treatment at Maryland and Georgia hospitals

    A Phoenix Air jet carrying Dr. Martin Salia lands in Omaha, Neb., on Nov. 15. He died from Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center two days later. (Nati Harnik/AP)A Phoenix Air jet carrying Dr. Martin Salia lands in Omaha, Neb., on Nov. 15. He died from Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center two days later. (Nati Harnik/AP)

    There has been an apparent first in the fight against Ebola this week.

    According to flight records, the private jet company contracted by the State Department to transport Ebola patients flew two air ambulances to West Africa on the same day.

    Until Wednesday, Phoenix Air had flown only one Ebola-fighting mission at a time. A second Gulfstream jet featuring the ability to treat infectious patients in flight had been held back in case of an emergency with the first aircraft. But last month, the Georgia-based operation finished customizing a third jet to handle the specialized medical equipment.

    A tentlike structure allows caregivers to treat a single Ebola patient in flight without infectious germs escaping. (CDC via Reuters)A tentlike structure allows caregivers to treat a single Ebola patient in flight without infectious germs escaping. (CDC via Reuters)

    The increased rescue capacity comes just in time. On Thursday, the Red Cross warned of a possible rise in the rate of Ebola infections in West Africa as people travel across the region during the holidays.

    One of this week’s flights brought an American nurse to the Washington area. On Thursday, the National Institutes of Health announced that an unidentified relief worker who was exposed to the

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  • Attorneys demand Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson be banned from policing in Missouri

    Former officer would defend license as ‘a matter of pride,’ his lawyer says

    Darren Wilson, Michael Brown and the shooting scene on Canfield Drive in Ferguson. (AP Photo)Darren Wilson, Michael Brown and the shooting scene on Canfield Drive in Ferguson. (AP Photo)
    Darren Wilson may have resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, but a group of attorneys wants the controversial officer stripped of his right to carry a badge anywhere in Missouri.

    In a nine-page petition, the National Bar Association — the country’s oldest and largest group of African American attorneys and judges — asks the Missouri Department of Public Safety to revoke Wilson’s law enforcement license.

    Last month, a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson, who is white, for the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. A federal civil rights investigation continues, but the likelihood of charges being brought is slim, since Wilson has testified he was in fear for his life at the time of the shooting.

    “Until the legal system is fixed, until the jury system is fixed, until there's an independent prosecutor, until there's an independent investigation of these types of events, we are researching the possibility of doing this around the nation,” Pamela

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Pagination

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