CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the Colorado theater shootings case urged the judge on Monday to bar cameras from the courtroom during the trial, saying witnesses could be harassed and threatened because of the coverage.
They also argued that witnesses’ images could be exploited on the Internet forever.READ MORE: Wildfire Sparks In Ptarmigan Wilderness Above Town Of Silverthorne
Attorneys for news organizations responded that no evidence shows that courtroom cameras would make the public scrutiny of witnesses any more intense than it will be anyway because of strong interest in the case.
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said he would rule next week.
“It wouldn’t bother me if they showed it, but it wouldn’t bother me if they didn’t either,” shooting victim Marcus Weaver said. “But at the same time I think the people of this country deserve to see what’s going on with the trial and see it for themselves.”
“The issue isn’t just the media’s right to access and to be able to have cameras in there, but it’s also the public’s right,” CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said. “And so those people who are in favor of cameras feel that the public can more accurately see what’s going on, hear what’s going, on when they are allowed to look at witness’ credibility, listen to the testimony themselves, as opposed to relying on wither the reporter, who is giving their view of what happened, or other people like me who also try to interpret what’s gone on in a courtroom.”
James Holmes is scheduled to go on trial in December on charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack at a Denver-area theater.
He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple charges of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes appeared in court Monday wearing glasses with rust-colored frames and oval lenses. He had never before worn glasses in court.
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked to place one video camera and a still photographer in the courtroom during the trial. They cited broad interest in the crime itself and in the intertwined issues of mental health, gun control and mass killings.READ MORE: Hector Frias-Chavarria Sentenced For Drunken & Deadly Road Rage Crash
They also argued that there had been no mistrials or problems in previous Colorado trials in which cameras were present.
Defense attorney Kristen Nelson countered that this would be the first time cameras would be present in a Colorado death penalty trial, and that the risk of making witnesses wary about testifying was too great.
“It’s only going to make matters worse,” she said.
Samour said he worries that witnesses might be underestimating how much media attention they will face even if he does not allow courtroom cameras.
“Either way, there’s going to be a ton of coverage,” he said.
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– By Dan Elliott, AP WriterMORE NEWS: High COVID Plateau In Colorado Somewhat Dependent On Vaccines For Children
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