Holmes Trial Comes to a Close

CENTENNIAL – James Holmes was found guilty in the Aurora theater shooting case on Thursday afternoon.

James Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured at least 70 others during the massacre at the Aurora movie theater during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012.

The jury in the Aurora theater trial found the shooter guilty.

Jurors received the case Tuesday evening after closing arguments by prosecutors and the defense over whether Holmes was legally insane at the time of the attack. The jury started deliberating the case on Wednesday after hearing nearly three months of testimony, including heartbreaking and sometimes gruesome survival stories. The twelve-member jury included nine women and three men. Two of the jury members have close ties to the 1999 Columbine shooting.

After just 13 hours of deliberations, the jury announced they had a verdict. The verdict was read at 4:15 p.m.

Holmes was charged with 24 murder counts for 12 victims. Each murder was being charged twice, under two different legal theories: “with deliberation” and “extreme indifference.”

The trial will now enter a sentencing phase in which the jury must decide between life in prison or the death penalty.

(© 2015 KUSA)


Colorado arrests for drunken driving up 40 percent this summer

POSTED:   09/04/2012 12:01:00 AM MDT
UPDATED:   09/04/2012 12:40:59 PM MDT

By Kirk Mitchell
The Denver Post

DUI patrol

The Colorado Department of Transportation has “Heat is on” events that include DUI patrols. (THE DENVER POST | file)


The Denver Post’s crime and courts reporters take you beyond the press release with more Denver and Colorado crime coverage.

Even before Labor Day weekend, state troopers had already made more than 40 percent more drunken-driving arrests than last summer.

And experts were predicting an increase in people traveling in Colorado this holiday.

More than 550,000 Colorado residents, or an increase of 3.2 percent over last year, were expected to travel during the holiday weekend.

It’s the most Labor Day traveling since before the recession, according to Wave Dreher, spokesperson for AAA Colorado.

The ones who are driving drunk are the target of this summer’s sustained law enforcement campaign , said Trooper Josh Lewis, spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol.

“The Labor Day weekend is kind of the last hurrah,” Lewis said. “As much as we’ve publicized the 100 Days of Heat campaign and despite the consequences, people still go out and do what they want.”

Last year, troopers and other participating police officers and sheriff deputies involved in the 100 Days program arrested a total of 1,440 suspects, Lewis said.

This year they have already made more than 2,000 arrests before the Labor Day weekend started. The officers will continue to make arrests until 3 a.m. Tuesday.

“We’re still out there and we’re going to make more arrests,” Lewis said. “Labor Day is our big push.”

Even though there were more drunken-driving arrests this summer in Colorado than last year, there were fewer deaths caused by drunken drivers, Lewis said.

“It looks like we got to some people before they crashed,” he said.

Fritz Homann, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said traffic through the Eisenhower Tunnel toward Denver was very heavy Monday afternoon.

Homann said during one hour, 2,926 vehicles drove east through the tunnel.

“There have been a heck of a lot of delays … no accidents, just slow going,” Homann said.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206,kmitchell@denverpost.comortwitter.com/kmitchelldp

Read more:Colorado arrests for drunken driving up 40 percent this summer – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_21461841/colorado-arrests-drunken-driving-up-40-percent-this#ixzz25hjG0Xgc
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Colorado lab director says DUI errors aided suspects, but 2 retested lower

A state health department lab director swore under oath that faulty DUI tests by her lab favored defendants, but at least two of those tests reported a higher blood-alcohol reading than the actual result.

TheColorado Department of Public Health and Environment is retesting 1,700 blood samples from driving-under-the-influence suspectsafter officials said a lab tech failed to follow standard operating procedures, resulting in incorrect readings.

So far, the state has retested 800 of the blood samples handled by the lab tech and found 10 with errors.

In an affidavit signed under oath April 20, toxicology lab supervisor Cynthia Silva Burbach claimed that among the samples that had been retested, 10 ultimately had a higher blood-alcohol content than reported by the lab tech.

“Ten (samples) have been found to have an actual BAC significantly higher than reported by the technician,” she wrote. “To date, no retest has resulted in a lower actual BAC than was originally reported.”

Mark Salley, a spokesman for the health department, told The Denver Post last month that the erroneous tests favored the defendants because they were reported at a lower blood-alcohol level than was reality, meaning defendants were not overcharged.

But defense attorney Steven Katzman said his client’s initial blood-alcohol test showed a bad reading of 0.218 percent when it was tested Nov. 3. The retest conducted April 6 showed it was actually a 0.199 percent.

“Ms. Burbach’s affidavit is inaccurate because she said no retests had resulted in a lower BAC than originally reported,” Katzman said. “She didn’t say there weren’t any statistically lower. That is not accurate, and she knew that at least two weeks before because she signed the retest before the affidavit was done.”

Burbach signed her affidavit 16 days after that defendant’s test was redone.

Another defendant, who didn’t want to be named because his case is pending, provided copies of his tests, which show the first erroneous result in November put his blood-alcohol result at 0.146 percent.

The second test, conducted in April 13 — seven days before Burbach signed the affidavit — shows his blood-alcohol content was at 0.134 percent.

Salley maintains there is no discrepancy in Burbach’s affidavit because the difference in results is less than 10 percent, which he said is not scientifically significant.

“The standard operating procedure for the state lab allows for a 10 percent variation between results when the same sample is run multiple times,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Significant variation, in this case is any variation outside of 20 percent. The 10 samples referenced above are all outside the 20 percent variation. These samples were all originally reported out in the defendants favor, a lower Blood Alcohol Content.”

But chemist Robert Lantz, director of Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories, said the 20 percent variation does make a difference.

“The idea that a disagreement of 20 percent between assays of ethanol is acceptable is ridiculous,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Ethanol is a very easy assay. Our agreement is generally +/- 0.003 between the four results that we obtain on each sample.”

Katzman said the difference in his client’s blood-alcohol result also affects jail time. In Colorado, jail time is mandatory for people convicted of DUI with a blood-alcohol content above 0.20 percent.

The lower and higher test readings are an indicator to Katzman that the health department doesn’t know what caused the problems in testing.

The fired lab tech, Mitchell Fox-Rivera, is contesting his dismissal and puts part of the blame on his supervisor, Burbach, who signed off on his work.

“If you buy what she said in her affidavit, that (Fox-Rivera) wasn’t using the proper volume of blood, then all of the samples should be wrong in the same way,” Katzman said. “You shouldn’t have some that were higher and some that were lower.”

Felisa Cardona: 303-954-1219 or fcardona@denverpost.com

Read more:Colorado lab director says DUI errors aided suspects, but 2 retested lower – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20597651/colorado-lab-director-says-dui-errors-aided-suspects#ixzz1uyuedwsM
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Marijuana Driving Limits Die in Colorado House Floor

A bill making it easier to convict people of driving high on marijuana was among the more than two dozen bills sacrificed in the Colorado House Tuesday night duringa gridlocked debate over civil unions.

Senate Bill 117, which was only two vote-counts away from the governor’s desk, failed to receive a second-reading vote by midnight. Bills cannot receive second-reading and final-reading OKs on the same day, meaning the bill is dead for the year. Wednesday is the last day of the legislative session.

Earlier in the day, the controversial bill surmounted its final legislative committee, when the state House Appropriations Committee approved it 9-4.

The proposal would have made it illegal to drive with more than a certain amount of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana — in your system. The limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood that the bill proposed would have been similar to the .08 blood-alcohol standard for drunk driving.

Supporters said the bill was scientifically sound and was needed to send a message that driving stoned is not OK. Opponents said the limit was too low and would have resulted in near-certain convictions of sober drivers.

It is already against the law to drive high, but currently prosecutors must prove impairment on a case-by-case basis. Setting a limit — known as aper sestandard — provides a shortcut around that.

In a statement released late Tuesday, the head of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, a lobbying organization that opposed the bill, said the current law is effective enough at stopping stoned driving.

“We will continue partnering with state agencies, such as the Colorado Department of Transportation, to build awareness about the dangers of drugged driving, and to help make our roads safer,” Mike Elliott, the group’s executive director, wrote in an e-mail.

Lawmakers in the state Senatekilled a nearly identical billin the closing days of last year’s session. The Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice didn’t endorse this year’s bill, after an offseason subcommittee created to study stoned drivingcouldn’t agree on a proposal.

But, with thebacking of law enforcement and drug-treatment groups, the billsqueaked through the Senate. It appearedheaded for approval in the Housebefore Tuesday night’s pile-up.

John Ingold: 303-954-1068 or jingold@denverpost.com

Read more:Marijuana driving limits die on Colorado House floor – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20576681/marijuana-driving-limits-pass-final-colorado-house-committee#ixzz1uNob8FNj
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Supreme Court Decision Regarding Strip Searches Draws Fire

In the space of 11 years, the Supreme Court has gone from allowing police to make a warrantless arrest of someone for a minor offense in which the worst penalty is a fine to approving a strip search of that person. Somehow that doesn’t sound like progress.

The first decision was debatable, but at least you could see the logic. By contrast, the latest opinion is a gross intrusion into personal privacy and the Fourth Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

If you read only the court’s majority opinion, however, you might be lulled into thinking that local jailers need to peer into every body cavity just to keep the peace.

After all, “the difficulties of operating a detention center must not be underestimated by the courts,” Justice Anthony Kennedy reminds us, and the searches serve “not only to discover but also to deter the smuggling of weapons, drugs, and other prohibited items inside.”

If exceptions were made for strip searches — for someone, say, who’d forgotten to strap on a seat belt — “inmates would adapt” to the loophole and “undermine the security of the institution.” Why, if officers weren’t able to inspect the naked body of everyone headed, however briefly, for the general jail population, how would they know who was infested with lice, and who was wearing gang-related tattoos?

Kennedy even dragooned Timothy McVeigh and serial killer Joel Rifkin into the argument, noting that each was pulled over for driving without a license plate. “People detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals,” he wrote.

It all sounds persuasive, but step back and draw a deep breath — because most of it’s bunk.

To begin with, people arrested for minor traffic or regulatory offenses or similar misdemeanors are in factfarless likely to be sociopaths like McVeigh or Rifkin than those arrested for violent crimes and felonies. Most, in fact, are likely to be very much like you or me — folks who could never imagine that a minor offense would result in their being forced to strip in front of jailers and then, as the majority opinion describes the ensuing action, “to move or spread the buttocks or genital areas or to cough in a squatting position.”

Indeed, as Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out in a dissent joined by three other justices, briefs in the case identified victims of strip searches who had been detained for nothing more serious than “driving with a noisy muffler, driving with an inoperable headlight, failing to use a turn signal, or riding a bicycle without an audible bell.”

Yes, in some jurisdictions they’ll apparently arrest you for an inaudible bell.

Moreover, as Breyer notes, no one — including the man who sued in this case after being arrested for a fine he’d already paid and then being subjected to two strip searches — contests the ability of jails to pat-frisk every inmate and send them through a metal detector, including the sort that “identifies metal hidden within the body.” No one disputes that a jail can force inmates to shower using “particular delousing agents,” or maintains officers can’t, in the interest of security, view inmates showering or in their underwear.

No, the critics merely consider a formal strip search complete with inspection of every body orifice as an intolerable affront to human dignity when the alleged offense is minor and no reasonable suspicion exists.

“Those arrested for minor offenses are often stopped and arrested unexpectedly,” Breyer further explains. “And they consequently will have had little opportunity to hide things in their body cavities.”

It is the court’s duty to protect basic constitutional rights, not grant every benefit of the doubt to law enforcement and its convenience.

Among the majority, Samuel Alito seemed to have the most reservations, stressing in a concurring opinion that it is “notalwaysreasonable to conduct a full strip search” of those arrested for minor offenses — at least if they can be held apart from the general jail population. And he notes that in the federal Bureau of Prisons, such offenders are subject to body cavity searches only under reasonable suspicion — and those not searched are housed separately from general inmates.

That civilized policy may be too costly for some local jails, but it still doesn’t mean they can run roughshod over constitutional rights.
Read more:Carroll: Supreme Court’s strip search decision violates our privacy – The Denver Post

St. Patrick’s Day DUI Crackdown

We here at Corkadel & Schneider urge you to be responsible as you enjoy your favorite holidays! Police will continue to patrol the streets looking for anyone driving after consuming any alcohol. If you drink, don’t be afraid to take a cab home. However, we are here to help if the unfortunate happens.

More than 400 drivers were arrested statewide over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, suspected of drinking and driving.

The highest number of arrests took place in Denver, according to a joint media release from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol.

“The Heat is On” enforcement campaign over the the March 17 weekend netted 48 arrests in Denver, 36 in Colorado Springs and 29 in Aurora, according to the release.

Authorities reported four traffic fatalities statewide over the holiday weekend, with three of those being alcohol-related.

The release also totaled DUI offenses for the top 10 counties in Colorado in 2011, with Denver on top with 3,123 cases. El Paso County was second with 2,902 and Adams County was third with 2,892.

More information is available atwww.HeatIsOnColorado.com.

Read more:More than 400 DUI suspects arrested in Colorado over St. Patrick’s Day weekend – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20258233/more-than-400-dui-suspects-arrested-st-patricks#ixzz1qLlQTXEL



DUI Basics

What is a DUI?

DUI by definition means Driving Under the Influence of either drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two.  A DUI offense is serious and can have effects on your driver’s license as well as a potential for jail.  DUI offenses often include substantive evidence such as a breathalyzer test or a blood test as well as live testimony from a police officer.  Having an experienced attorney to review your case is often essential in DUI charges.

What is a DWAI?

In Colorado, if your blood alcohol content is between .05 and .08, a police officer or the district attorney may charge you with a DWAI, a Driving While Ability Impaired.  While this is considered a lesser offense than a DUI, a DWAI may still have serious consequences on your driver’s license, insurance rates, and potential jail time.

What are the penalties for a DUI or DWAI?

If you are found guilty of DUI or DWAI, the possible penalties may include:

  • Significant jail time
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • Loss of commercial driver’s license
  • Points on driver’s license license
  • Higher car insurance rates
  • Interlock device restrictions
  • Probation with alcohol classes
  • Community serivce
  • Significant fines up to $1500

What should I do if I am charged with a DUI?

First, you should contact a lawyer immediately to help with your case.  You will also need to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 7 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact us today.