Jury expected to be seated Wednesday in Aspen rape case
ASPEN – A judge and attorneys continued to meet individually with juror candidates Tuesday in the trial of a Carbondale man accused of raping a woman three times outside an Aspen apartment complex last year.
After the final juror was released from the Pitkin County Courthouse at approximately 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said he expects the selection process, which began Monday, to end Wednesday.
“I think we’ll get a jury [today],” he said.
The jury pool for the trial of Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun swelled Tuesday when approximately 40 new juror candidates appeared in Pitkin County District Court. They had been summoned for jury duty in a civil trial, which was canceled. But instead of being dismissed, the juror candidates were brought into the fold for the rape trial.
Ten of those 40 candidates were dismissed, leaving 30 remaining potential jurors. That number, combined with an estimated 21 remaining juror candidates from Monday’s jury pool, puts the total at 51. The trial calls for 12 jurors and one alternate.
Jurors filed into District Judge James Boyd’s chambers all day Tuesday, where Mordkin, prosecutor Richard Nedlin, and public defenders Tina Fang and Stephen McCrohan met with them in private. Also present was the suspect, Gonzalez-Loujun, 22, of Carbondale.
He is accused of sexually assaulting the victim three times outside of the Centennial Apartments complex in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2009. He was arrested the same morning, initially for allegedly assaulting a police officer and drug distribution charges, after cops encountered him walking away from the apartment complex when they were responding to a report that a rape had occurred.
Police say they found 14 bindles containing cocaine on Gonzalez-Loujun’s person at the time of his arrest.
All juror candidates have filled out a three-page questionnaire, which describes basic elements of the charges and accusations against Gonzalez-Loujun, who faces a lifetime in the Department of Corrections if convicted of the sexual assault charge.
Among the questions are:
• Have you, a family member, or a friend ever been the victim of sexual assault?
• Have you, a family member, or a friend ever been accused of sexual assault?
• Do you have any particular feelings about the charges involving the distribution of drugs or possession of drugs that you think the judge or parties should be aware of?
Roughly a dozen juror candidates are scheduled to meet individually in the judge’s chambers Wednesday.
No jurors have been picked yet; instead, attorneys on both sides have been eliminating candidates they feel aren’t qualified because of biases or issues of incompetence, among other reasons.