A long, hard day of jury selection in murder trial | AspenTimes.com

A long, hard day of jury selection in murder trial

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

After a long day of questioning potential jurors, attorneys still have not chosen a jury for the first-degree murder trial of Andrew Kachik.

Just after 5 p.m. Tuesday, 13 jurors had been selected and answered preliminary questions from Judge J.E. DeVilbiss and both attorneys. Beginning at 8:30 this morning, Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills and public defender James Conway will each have the chance to strike up to 11 jurors from the jury box based on the answers to those questions.

Wills said opening statements in the trial should begin immediately after a jury is selected. Several jurors were sent home on Tuesday after telling the court they would have difficulty making a fair decision in the trial.

Andrew Kachik was arrested Oct. 25 and charged in the shooting death of Thomasville resident Vincent Thomas. He is being held without bond in Pitkin County Jail.

In court on Tuesday, Kachik was clad in khaki pants, a plaid shirt and a tie. He was escorted in and out of the courtroom by sheriff’s office and police officers through a rear door. Everyone else in the courtroom had to pass through a metal detector and mandatory bag search at the front door.

Jurors answered standard questions about whether or not they knew any people on the list of witnesses, or had any connection to the victim or the defendant. One volunteer firefighter with the Thomasville Fire Department was released early in the selection process, as victim Vince Thomas was also a volunteer firefighter in the small fire district.

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Wills asked potential jurors about past personal relationships, asking whether they felt frustration and antagonism during divorces, or if anger had ever led them to physical violence. According to preliminary reports, Kachik’s girlfriend had moved in with Thomas after she had an argument with Kachik.

Kachik’s girlfriend has told police that Kachik entered Thomas’ house and shot him. According to public defender James Conway, a recording of the 911 call the girlfriend made to police will be played during the trial.

Besides the tape, Wills asked the potential jurors if they would have trouble serving on the jury due to the graphic and serious nature of the crime at hand and the “explicit photographs and language” of evidence presented at trial.

Wills also primarily dwelled on each potential juror’s experience with guns, asking whether they owned guns and whether they had fired guns.

Conway’s questions seemed to indicate he will attempt to show that Kachik’s alleged actions on Oct. 25 were out of character and based on some sort of a provoked response.

“Have you ever been provoked to do something you wouldn’t normally do?” Conway asked. “Something that wasn’t part of your normal character?”

He also indicated that jurors will be asked to consider someone’s state of mind during a crime, saying that when they hear that Kachik shot Thomas on Oct. 25, they should be prepared to think about his mental state at the time. The charge of first-degree murder includes the term “with intent,” meaning Kachik purposefully pulled the trigger and killed Thomas.

Kachik’s mental state must be proven by the prosecution, Conway said.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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