WATCH: The jury selection for James Holmes’ trial began Tuesday near Denver, Colorado. Rick Sallinger reports.
DENVER – The first time James Holmes appeared in court, he wore chains and an orange jail jumpsuit and looked dazed, with his hair dyed a comic-book shade of orange.
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Profile: Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes
As jury selection began Tuesday in the Colorado theatre shooting, it was a far different Holmes at the defence table: The jail uniform was replaced with khakis, an untucked blue shirt with white stripes and a blue blazer. His hair, now a dark brown, was neatly trimmed.
The former graduate student whose attorneys acknowledge he opened fire at a midnight “Batman” movie back in 2012 also had a curly, medium-length beard and wore oval-shaped reddish glasses. No restraints were visible, though the judge had ordered him to be tethered to the floor in a way the public couldn’t see for the trial.
READ MORE: Colorado theatre shooting suspect’s parents plead to spare his life
Holmes’ more conventional appearance was an indication that the case was drawing closer to the time when a jury would see the defendant accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at a suburban Denver theatre. But first attorneys have to sort through thousands of potential jurors.
Court officials initially summoned a jury pool of 9,000 people, the largest in the nation’s history. But that figure later fell to 7,000 after some summons could not be delivered and some people were excused. The pool will be winnowed to a handful in the weeks ahead.
It could take until June to seat the jurors and alternates for a trial that might last until October.
Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder and attempted murder charges, could get the death penalty if convicted.
The first wave of jurors arrived in court after undergoing two security screenings. They heard instructions from the judge before they would fill out questionnaires.
READ MORE: A year after theatre shootings, Colorado looks for healing
Judge Carlos Samour suggested earlier that attorneys might not have to screen all the prospective jurors before beginning to select panelists. He said the process could stop after a few thousand people are screened if both sides agree they have a large enough pool of people.
The defence objected to the use of a video during the trial, saying prosecutors gave it to them too late. The video is apparently from the jail where Holmes has been held, but its contents have not been made public.
The judge also went over ground rules for jury selection and the trial, urging attorneys on both sides to be professional and respectful.
“We’re going to be spending a lot of time together,” Samour said.
The scope of jury selection and the trial are testaments to the logistical hurdles of trying the rare case of a mass shooter who survives his attack.
“The public is going to get an insight into the mind of a killer who says he doesn’t know right from wrong,” said Alan Tuerkheimer, a Chicago-based jury consultant. “It is really rare. It just doesn’t usually come to this.”
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Shortly before 1 p.m., prospective jurors began walking into the courtroom. Some carried books or newspapers or looked at their cellphones as they waited to pass through a security station in the hallway.
The case has sparked an emotionally charged debate, with Holmes’ parents begging for a plea deal that would save his life, while many survivors and family members of victims have demanded that he be executed.
After the July 20, 2012, shooting, the 27-year-old Holmes was arrested as he stripped off combat gear in the parking lot of the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora.
If jurors convict him, they must then decide whether to recommend the death penalty. If Holmes is acquitted, he would be committed to the state mental hospital indefinitely.
Defence attorneys acknowledge Holmes was the gunman in the attack but say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode at the time.
Under Colorado law, defendants are not legally liable for their acts if their minds are so “diseased” that they cannot distinguish right from wrong. Part of the reason the case has dragged on is the battle over whether that standard applies to Holmes.
Few details on those arguments have been made public. Prosecutors and defence attorneys remain under a long-running gag order, and court documents detailing the issue have stayed under seal.
Holmes’ sanity was evaluated by a state psychiatrist but the results were not made public. Prosecutors objected to the findings and persuaded a judge to order a second evaluation. Those results were contested by the defence.
Prosecutors previously rejected at least one plea deal proposed by Holmes’ attorneys, criticizing the lawyers for publicizing the offer and calling it a ploy meant to draw the public and the judge into what should be private plea negotiations.
Survivors of the attack and family members of victims have had a long time to get ready for a trial.
“We’ve all been to therapists and have talked to our families and have our support groups, so we’re prepared,” said Marcus Weaver, who was shot in the arm and whose friend Rebecca Wingo died in the attack. “It’s going to be quite the journey.”
Judge Samour called nearly nine times as many prospective jurors as were summoned in the ongoing Boston marathon bombing trial. That meant the county’s 600,000 residents had a nearly one-in-50 chance of being selected.
Facing a diminished role with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Richie Hall took on the challenge of becoming the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive co-ordinator. Hall served as Saskatchewan’s defensive co-ordinator the last four seasons.
Saskatchewan’s defence allowed the fewest touchdowns in the CFL while recording the most interceptions to anchor the Riders’ Grey Cup run in 2013.
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Richie Hall rejoins Roughriders’ coaching staff
But after Saskatchewan posted a 10-8 record last season, head coach Corey Chamblin said in December that Hall wouldn’t continue as the Riders’ defensive co-ordinator.
Chamblin indicated Hall would be offered another role within the organization. Instead, Hall accepted the task of rebuilding a Winnipeg defence that allowed a CFL-worst 135.9 yards rushing per game.
“As a player, in all my years of coaching, the emphasis has always been we’ve got to stop the run,” Hall told reporters during a conference call. “If you’re able to control the run, you’re able to control the line of scrimmage and everything starts up in the trenches.”
“You have to be able to counter everything they do. If a team is able to run the ball effectively against you, it can dictate the flow of the game. Defensively, we want to be able to dictate the flow of the game.”
Hall, 54, a native of San Antonio, has spent all but two of his 20 years coaching in the CFL with Saskatchewan’s defence.
Hall was Edmonton’s head coach in 2009 and 2010 before returning to Regina, where he’d also won Grey Cups in ’89 as a player and ’07 as the defensive co-ordinator.
Hall replaces Gary Etcheverry, who was fired after just one season overseeing Winnipeg’s defence. The Blue Bombers missed the playoffs with a 7-11 record under rookie head coach Mike O’Shea.
“Richie has always had a good plan,” O’Shea said. “There’s no time that he’s entered the game without a good plan.”
“His players always feel solid about the plan. He’s also got the ability to adjust. His knowledge of our game and of the opposition, the various co-ordinators in our game, there’s nothing Richie hasn’t seen or dealt with.”
With former Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille returning as offensive co-ordinator, O’Shea feels well supported by the experience of his two assistants.
“I say this to the coaching staff when we first get together ‘If you see me tripping, catch me,’ ” O’Shea said. “There are mistakes that are going to be made and it’s up to all of us to make sure that we don’t make those mistakes and they don’t cost us games.”
First-year starter Drew Willy, the CFL’s third-ranked passer with 3,769 yards, gave Winnipeg’s offence credibility and the defence did finish the season ranked second against the pass. But only expansion Ottawa (37) had fewer sacks than the Bombers (43), who also allowed a CFL-high 481 points.
Chamblin told reporters in Regina last month he took over Saskatchewan’s defence for the West Division semifinal against Edmonton, a game the Riders lost 18-10 despite not allowing an offensive touchdown.
O’Shea, a former all-star linebacker, insisted Hall would have freedom to implement his defensive packages with the Blue Bombers.
“One of the things I firmly believe in is you hire men you’re going to trust and let them coach,” he said. “I won’t be sticking my fingers in to upset the apple cart. Richie is going to have his systems. He’s going to put the time in to come up with a great plan.”
“As head coach, he and I are going to talk about that plan before the game. I’ll have input and there will be times I get on the headset and I’ll talk about the flow of the game and what I’d like to see. My preference is always to let the coaches coach. That’s what I hired him for.”
Hall was a CFL all-star as a defensive back in the 1980s with both Calgary and Saskatchewan. He says he’ll commute for now between Winnipeg and Regina, where his wife, Helen, is employed.
After so many years of wearing green and white, Hall acknowledged it will be an adjustment wearing different colours on what was once an enemy football field.
“I think it’s going to be strange but you also understand its football,” he said. “You become committed to the jersey you put on.”
“That’s the life of a coach, that’s the life of a professional athlete.”
Watch the video above: Twins Mark and Scott Kelly talk about their role in NASA’s year-long mission in space.
TORONTO – If humans are going to embark on a journey to other worlds in our solar system, more information on the effects of space — with its dangerous solar and cosmic rays — is needed. And Mark and Scott Kelly are doing their part.
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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is preparing to launch to the International Space Station next month (along with Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka) where he will stay for a year. Meanwhile, his twin brother and former astronaut Mike Kelly will remain on Earth, living his day-to-day life.
Throughout the year, various samples of blood, saliva and other material will be collected from both subjects. Both will also undergo various psychological and physical tests.
U.S. Astronaut Scott Kelly (pictured left) and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (pictured right) are preparing for the one-year mission in space. NASA
U.S. Astronaut Scott Kelly (pictured left) and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (pictured right) are preparing for the one-year mission in space.
Research is always being done on the effects of living in space. But this will be NASA’s first long-duration mission (the typical stay is six months) and the first opportunity to study its effects. As well, there has never been an opportunity to compare the effects of living in space with someone who is almost genetically identical.
The data is part of NASA’s One Year Mission and Twins Study, part the Human Research Program which studies the effects of spaceflight on humans.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s early intervention programs will see their funding nearly double over the next three years.
A review of the programs released Tuesday by Education Minister Karen Casey recommends the government improve them and provide better access to them.
Casey said $2.6 million will be invested in the programs over the course of the government’s mandate, in addition to the $2.7 million already allocated for them.
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The increase in funding is intended to reduce waiting lists and offer better access to early intervention and support staff.
“We have gotten a lot better in the province at early identification. The key now is the intervention,” Casey said.
According to the review, the issue of long wait times is preventing many children from accessing the programs. There are currently 1,000 children receiving early intervention services in Nova Scotia, while more than 300 are on waiting lists.
There are currently 38 interventionists looking after those cases, and Casey said the province is looking to hire 10 to 16 more.
“We will begin to hire immediately and those hires will be to address the areas where we have the greatest wait list,” she said.
The review also raised the issue of wages — the average salary for an early interventionist in Nova Scotia is about $32,000, which is the lowest in Canada. Casey said the government will commit to increasing wages over the next three years.
“I can tell you that the wages will improve,” she said. “They have to improve.”
Read the review’s recommendations:
View this document on Scribd
TORONTO – You ate it at birthday parties, school lunches, and weekend dinner. Pizza is a classic staple food in childhood and now doctors are hoping to use the dish to teach kids about nutrition and healthy eating.
American researchers say that pizza is the second-highest source of calories in kids, next to cookies, cakes and sweets. The cheesy, portable food isn’t good for you – on the days teens graze on pizza, they eat an extra 365 calories.
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READ MORE: This anti-obesity ad may scare parents into stashing the junk food away
“Not only is pizza one of the things children and teens eat most often, it is packing on extra calories, extra fat and extra sodium, or salt,” Dr. Lisa Powell, of the University of Illinois, told Healthline.
“If we could help kids eat less pizza, or help them eat healthier pizza, we could have a huge impact on their diet, their nutrition and their health,” Powell said. She suggests including it in nutritional counselling could be the start.
Powell’s study is based on data from a U.S. national health and nutrition survey that took a pulse of the eating habits of kids two to 19 years old between 2003 and 2010.
The researchers say that about 20 per cent of kids eat pizza on any given day. That “surprised” the researchers.
READ MORE: What happens if you live off of pizza alone for 25 years?
On days when children ate pizza, they took in an additional 84 calories, three grams of saturated fat, and 134 milligrams of sodium than they did on no-pizza days.
The situation worsened as they got older: as adolescents, they ate an extra 230 calories, five grams of saturated fat and 484 milligrams of sodium.
It made up 22 per cent of caloric intake among kids and 26 per cent of total caloric intake in preteens in a calendar year.
When they were snacking on pizza, and not eating it as a meal, they were eating an additional 365 calories a day.
READ MORE: How this Danish doctor is battling childhood obesity around the world
The researchers warn that these extra calories, sodium and unhealthy fats applied across the board, regardless of race, gender and income.
They say that the dish could be “an important contributor to the obesity epidemic,” and that parents need to scale back on how often they’re feeding pizza to their kids.
Powell’s report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, isn’t the first to dole out advice to parents. Last year, North Carolina scientists told parents that their feeding habits could be creating bad eating habits in their children later on in life.
READ MORE: Parents’ feeding habits may be increasing childhood obesity
Regardless of race and ethnicity, parents are cutting corners in feeding, University of North Carolina researchers warned. In that case, they said that parents were feeding babies fruit juice, leaving their toddlers in front of the TV with a bottle propped up to their mouths or even introducing solid foods too soon and forcing their kids to finish their meals.
Read Powell’s full findings here.