Jury Selection Begins in Murder Trial of Fired Rocky Ford Police Officer

jack jacquez


LA JUNTA, Colorado.  In a town with a population of only 7000, over 100 were summoned to the Otero County Courthouse to answer the typical questions that begin the jury selection phase in the case against a former Rocky Ford police officer.  James Ashby is facing a second-degree murder charge and a charge of criminally negligent homicide for the fatal shooting of Rocky Ford resident 27-year old Jack Jacquez Jr., on October 12, 2014 after Jacquez was spotted by Ashby riding his skateboard to his home.IMG_9560

16th Judicial District Judge Mark A. MacDonnell presided over jury selection.  Early in the selection, jurors were told that they would be answering the typical jury interview questions openly in the courtroom but in a sudden change in procedure, jurors were individually questioned in private chambers.  The time necessary for individual interviews led MacDonnell to divide the interview process to two days, thereby dismissing half of the potential juror pool for one day while the other half could be interviewed.  Jury selection is expected to be completed by Wednesday.  A 12-member jury and two alternates will be seated.

After the October shooting Ashby was arrested and later fired in an unusual move in the state of Colorado where this prosecution is the first against a police officer in an officer involved shooting in over 20 years.  The shooting sparked a level of protests not seen in the town of about 4000 people where dozens showed up to to one rally holding signs calling for “Justice for Jack” and “Hands up Don’t Shoot” comparing this shooting to the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri just months earlier.

Ashby sat in court next to his defense team Michael Lowe of Bruno, Collin & Lowe of Denver and Carrie Slinkard of the same firm.  He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After preliminary hearings that led to a postponed trial over the course of last year Judge MacDonnell ruled that enough evidence existed to bring Ashby to trial.  MacDonnell explained to the courtroom the Colorado statute that allows for the District Attorney to bring forth criminal cases.  In this case District Attorney James R. Bullock along with Assistant District Attorney William Coburn, and Chief Deputy Attorney Andrew Hayden made up the team that will attempt to convince jurors of Ashby’s guilt.

At one of those preliminary hearings Otero County Coroner Bob Fowler testified that bullet wounds on the body of Jacquez all entered from behind or from a direction not consistent with Ashby’s report of the incident.  Another account came from a citizen on a ride-along with the officer that night who also failed to corroborate Ashby’s account of details leading up to the shooting.

One key witness will be the mother of the victim, Viola Jacquez who was a witness to the shooting.  She maintains a memorial outside of her home to which the community has added over time.

Opening statements are scheduled for Thursday.  The trial is expected to last three weeks.



Please follow and like us:
Follow by Email