Jury selection for the trial of alleged Deer Creek Middle School gunman Bruco Eastwood is scheduled to begin Sept. 15, more than a year and a half since the shooting that wounded two students.
Jury selection is slated to conclude Sept. 16, and opening arguments will follow beginning Sept. 20 in a trial that prosecutors said could last three weeks and public defenders said is likely to span more than a month due to a lengthy list of witnesses.
Twelve jurors and at least two alternates will be picked from a pool of about 100 people summoned. Lawyers will initially select about 50 people, based on answers to a brief questionnaire, an uncommon practice Judge Christopher Munch said he allows only about every five years.
Due to the high-profile nature of the case, a pretrial questionnaire is necessary to assess potential jurors’ knowledge of the shootings gleaned from media reports, Munch said. The questionnaire will also inquire about financial hardship that could result for jurors spending weeks away from work.
During the trial, at least four doctors are expected to testify, three of whom examined Eastwood and reportedly concluded he suffered from mental illness. The fourth doctor, whom the district attorney’s office hired to review two prior analyses by the state mental-health workers, will likely critique or refute the reports.
Though prosecutors have acknowledged Eastwood’s mental-health problems, they contend he was lucid when he allegedly fired a high-powered rifle outside the school, hitting students Matt Thieu and Reagan Weber.
“We all know there’s going to be evidence of insanity,” Munch said, noting that the defense will likely take much longer to present its case than the prosecution. “That’s what this case is about, isn’t it?”
Eastwood, who has been held on $1 million bond, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges related to the Feb. 23, 2010 shootings, including four counts of attempted murder. He could face a sentence of more than 90 years in prison if convicted.
Eastwood attended Deer Creek Middle School in the early ’90s, an experience a Jeffco investigator said the suspect recounted unfavorably.
In 2002, Eastwood reported hearing voices emanating from a Nielsen television-ratings box. Interviews with police and mental-health professionals after his arrest last year apparently indicate he said he has suffered from “transforming forces” in his body.