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Will images of accused sway potential Aurora jurors? 'You can't un-ring the bell,' says expert




Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes (L) makes his first court appearance at the Arapahoe County Courthouse with his public defender Tamara Brady on July 23, 2012 in Centennial, Colorado. According to police, Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 others during a shooting rampage at an opening night screening of
Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes (L) makes his first court appearance at the Arapahoe County Courthouse with his public defender Tamara Brady on July 23, 2012 in Centennial, Colorado. According to police, Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 others during a shooting rampage at an opening night screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" July 20, in Aurora, Colorado.
RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images

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Jury selection began this week in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting trial of James Holmes.

Holmes faces the death penalty if a jury finds that he was sane when he shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 more inside a movie theater in July 2012. His attorneys do not contest that he committed the crimes, but say that he's not guilty by reason of insanity.

It's a difficult task to find 12 impartial jurors and 12 alternates in such a high-profile case as this, with so many victims.

Hamid Towfigh is a former L.A. gang and murder prosecutor who teaches a course called The Art of Jury Selection at Loyola Law School. He told Take Two that most members of the community are likely to have knowledge of the shooting spree and been exposed to images of Holmes as he sat wide-eyed in court hearings. And those images may stick.

"You can't un-ring the bell, especially with jurors. Those citizens of Aurora have seen the huge eyes with the orange hair . . . and it's going to be hard for them not to think that a person like that is crazy, especially with the amount of victims in this case," Towfigh said.

But Towfigh added that the goal of jury selection is not to find jurors who are completely ignorant of a case.

"Rather, it's to find jurors who can be impartial. That is to say, put whatever knowledge they have or biases about the case outside of the courtroom, come inside, listen to the facts of the case, apply the law to it, and come to a just verdict," he said.



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