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Scenes From the Courtroom


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1. Before the defense’s star witness Raquel Gur ever testified, she had to sit in the courtroom to wait her turn. Unfamiliar with the gallery, the psychiatrist sat exactly where she didn’t want to be: directly in front of the victims’ families. These are people who are not on Gur’s side, as she is the defense’s last best hope to get a not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) verdict. She hummed to herself, at times hugging her big white notebook to her chest, perhaps trying to drown out some of the comments uttered behind her. Next time, she sat somewhere else.

George Brauchler cross-examines Dr. Raquel Gur.

George Brauchler cross-examines Dr. Raquel Gur.

2. There have been several interesting people who showed up to watch the proceedings including Tom Mauser, who has been active in gun control legislation ever since his son, Daniel,was shot and killed at Columbine in 1999.

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Tom Mauser in front of a picture of his son Tom

An anti-death penalty advocate sat in the front row and took notes beside the defendant’s parents, scowling at anyone around her who dared make a peep. And one of the jurors who didn’t make it to the final round came one day out of curiosity to see what she missed.

3. Speaking of jurors, Juror 901, who was dismissed from the trial because a family member was a victim of a hold-up during the case is still coming to court. She sits in the back row and writes. I’m not sure what she is doing and some have speculated she’s writing a book, but I’ve seen her doing Sudoku, so it may be as simple as…she hates the idea that she had to stop what she started.

4. And speaking of books, it’s very hard for victims’ families to listen to testimony regarding the defendant’s life. When you’ve lost your child, it’s beyond frustrating to hear testimony about the man who did the killing. For example, the defendant had to get a band-aid for an infected finger while he was in jail. So the ones who come and don’t want to hear this kind of thing sit and do crossword puzzles and bring paperbacks to read. When the testimony gets boring, I’ve seen them nod off.

5. There are five lawyers for each side, so lots of legal brains in the courtroom, and attorneys tend to dress very conservatively for the occasion. We’ve seen every cut of gray, navy and black suit. But one of the lawyers, prosecutor Lisa Teesch-McGuire, is much more creative, her taste leaning toward flouncy skirts with lots of pleats. My personal favorite is a dress with a bold green palm tree print. Not so much off-the- record in the bathroom she told me that after being on this depressing trial for six months (including jury selection) she wears bright clothing to keep from being so sad.

6. And speaking of the bathroom, lots of good conversations and sightings happen in there because you’re trapped for a couple of minutes just because nature calls and there’s nowhere to hide. I’ve talked about the weather and jewelry to key attorneys from both sides, defense witnesses and family members who wouldn’t want to be seen talking to me on “the outside.”

7. After 11 weeks, there are priceless light moments, like the time DA George Brauchler offered public defender Tamara Brady an Altoid just before addressing the judge. Or the day public defender Dan King wore a shiny gray outfit he called his “Ricky Martin” suit.

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Dan King in action in shiny silver

Or when Brauchler, while cross-examining the defense’s star witness, said “Tell us what you do, do. Not doo-doo, your honor.”

8. I feel like it’s time to put a fork in the jury, as they say. It seems like they are almost to a point where they want to scream “Enough already!!!!” They have gotten to know each other and laugh with the people who sit next to them. It’s a hodge podge of citizens which include a garage shop worker, an expert markswoman, an Army ICU nurse and an auto parts deliverer.

9. Reporters covering the trial have gotten to know each other very well too. They do impressions at happy hour of prosecutors, defense attorneys and even some of the witnesses. They’ve been known to sing show tunes on some nights.

10. It’s amazing what hasn’t happened, notably, that none of the victims or their families has rushed the defendant. But there are two big armed sheriff’s deputies assigned to stand between the the shooter and the victims’ side, just in case.

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Scenes From the Courtroom