Public defender: No need to move Stagner trial
It will be possible to gather an impartial jury for the Michael Stagner murder case within the Ninth Judicial District, making it unnecessary to seek a change of venue for the trial, public defender Greg Greer contends.
This news was announced Tuesday by Greer as he, fellow defense attorney Jamie Roth and prosecutors Mac Myers and Gretchen Larson discussed how to divide up jury questionnaires returned by citizens in the Ninth Judicial District.
“I believe we can get a jury in this jurisdiction,” Greer told Ninth District Judge T. Peter Craven.
As far as actually preselecting those jurors, a system was devised where green, yellow and red – the colors in a traffic signal – are being used to differentiate the desirability of potential jurors in the case.
A red mark on a questionnaire signifies a juror who demonstrated a pre-existing opinion on whether Stagner committed the crime and whether he is, in fact, insane.
“It allows you to not waste time,” Greer said.
Those who were considered red would be excused from voir dire – the examination of a potential juror to determine if that person is fit for the role.
A yellow mark signifies a juror who answered the questions in a borderline fashion, while green indicates a person who, according to his or her answers, showed the potential of being a fair, impartial juror.
Greer also used the yellow mark to point out those people who have claimed that the case would create a hardship for them.
After a short discussion about the colors and jury selection, members of the prosecution and defense left the courtroom to try and come to a consensus on which jurors should be considered red.
“If we can agree on the red, we can have a manageable group here,” Greer said, referring to agreement between the defense and the prosecution.
Stagner, 43, faces 19 charges, including eight counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. He was arrested the night of July 3, 2001, just minutes after allegedly shooting seven Mexicans outside a mobile home park in Rifle. Four of the victims died and three were seriously injured.
Since his arrest he has been held without bond in the Garfield County Jail. If convicted of the murder charges, he could receive life in prison, but if he is found innocent by reason of insanity, he could be relegated to a psychiatric hospital.
Stagner’s trial is set to begin with jury selection on Aug. 1 in Glenwood Springs.
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