Up to 480 people will be summoned to potentially serve on the jury during the trial of a former Rocky Ford police officer charged with second-degree murder.
District Court Chief Judge Mark MacDonnell said Wednesday during a pre-trial readiness hearing that the jury will be selected over a three-day process when the trial of James Ashby, charged with second-degree murder in the death of Jack Jacquez, starts Jan. 11, 2016. Groups of about 80 people will be screened at a time, with hopes the pool will be slimmed down to between 80 and 100 jurors. From that group, the jury and two alternates will be selected.
The trial is set for three weeks. Ashby has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges stemming from the October 2014 death of Jack Jacquez Jr., 27. On Oct. 12, 2014, Ashby reportedly confronted Jacquez and later shot him at the home of Jacquez's mother, Viola Jacquez, in Rocky Ford.
Jacquez died of wounds received to his heart from a projectile, according to an autopsy report. The projectile entered the left back area near the spine, severing the spine and wounding three of the four chambers of the heart.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation reports indicate that Ashby said he was in his patrol car and approached Jacquez who was riding his skateboard on Highway 50 in Rocky Ford. Ashby said Jacquez walked away from the patrol car and disappeared through an entry way into the backyard of a property. Ashby followed him and commanded Jacquez to "let me see your hands" and later commanded Jacquez to "put down the bat." Ashby said he knew Jacquez had grabbed a bat and began "loading up" like a batter ready to swing. At that time, Ashby stepped back from Jacquez and fired two quick shots. Ashby began CPR until other law enforcement and emergency officials arrived.
Ashby remains free on bond.
During Wednesday's hearing, defense attorney Carrie Slinkard, who is representing Ashby along with Michael T. Lowe, asked the court to order the prosecution to provide discovery specifically concerning Facebook messages between two witnesses. Slinkard said she was under the impression that at some point during the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's investigation, pictures were taken of Facebook messages between Julian Lucero and Mariah Talmich the morning of the incident. Lucero is believed to be the last person to be with Jacquez before he died. Slinkard said audio recordings from an interview with Lucero indicate there were discussions concerning the Facebook messages and pictures of the messages, as well as the sound of cameras taking pictures of what she believes were the messages. She said she has asked District Attorney Jim Bullock to provide those pictures but was told by Bullock that he does not have those pictures. She said Bullock stated they were "lost" and he "doesn't know what happened to them."
Bullock said he has never had possession of pictures of Facebook messages and has asked CBI for copies of those pictures as he agrees the audio does indicate there were pictures taken of something during the interview with Lucero. However, Bullock said, CBI has said those pictures don't exist.
Because the Facebook messages were discussed, Slinkard asked the court to order the District Attorney's office to contact Lucero and find out what's available. Bullock objected to the request and said he would have to send his investigator to find evidence which is something the defense is also capable of doing.
"It's as readily available to the defense as it is to us," Bullock said.
MacDonnell ordered the DA to have its investigator talk to Lucero and find out what Facebook messages are available and provide them.
Both sides also received approval to each add a late witnesses. The defense will add Julian Lucero to its witness list and the prosecution will add William Starks to its witness list as potential trial witnesses.
The judge will also provide decisions on a motion by the defense to remove an exhibit concerning the Rocky Ford Police Department's use of force policy stating it could potentially cause confusion for the jurors and an additional motion by the defense to remove seven photos from evidence that the defense considers inflammatory.