Jury seated for attempted murder trial in Steamboat Springs
October 17, 2013
Steamboat Springs — After a full day of questioning Thursday, Judge Shelley Hill was able to scrape together a 12-member jury.
"We came so close to not getting this done," Hill said near the end of the day's proceedings at the Routt County Justice Center.
Along with two alternates, the nine men and five women are expected to hear opening statements Friday morning in an attempted-murder trial.
Steven Torres has been charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of illegal discharge of a firearm and three crime of violence charges that are known as sentence enhancers related to the use of a firearm.
After being escorted out of a bar in downtown Steamboat Springs on June 9, prosecutors think Torres fired a gun into the bar toward three employees.
There were 150 people summoned for jury duty, and that almost proved to not be enough.
Hill immediately dismissed two law enforcement officers.
District Attorney Brett Barkey and Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann then began asking a panel of 24 people questions to determine whether they could put any personal feelings aside and listen to Hill's instructions as jurors.
Those with conflicts were taken off the panel, and their positions were filled with another potential juror called from the gallery.
Some potential jurors were excused because of vacation or work conflicts, including Sue Birch, who explained she is a Gov. John Hickenlooper Cabinet member in charge of health care and is busy while the Affordable Care Act is being phased in.
One man was excused because he was at the bar when the incident occurred.
Some members of the jury pool joked that Travis Wilkinson had one of the best reasons for needing to be excused. In addition to being a Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighter, Wilkinson works for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He said he needed to conduct drug tests of Colorado athletes so they could compete in the Olympics.
Child care was another issue that complicated the selection process.
A mother on the initial panel said she would not be able to arrange child care. To complicate things, the mother's child care provider also was a potential juror. The woman said she provided child care for 10 families. Both women were excused.
The seated jury includes a city worker, a chef at a downtown restaurant and a videographer. The jury will be sworn in when the trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. Friday.