For nearly 14 weeks, jurors in suburban Denver listened for hours as witnesses described the searing pain of gunshot wounds and the terror they felt as they fled the Aurora, Co., movie theater, the gunman still firing at them. They held the murder weapons. When they couldn’t agree that James Holmes should die for his crimes, they heard the cries of his anguished victims. The Associated Press reports that four months later, they are still haunted by the experience. One juror cut her hair, fearing she’d be recognized by a victim a grocery store. Another can no longer hunt with her husband, worried the sound of a gunshot will trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. Another can’t sleep without nightmares.
Some have seen therapists as they work through the shame they feel for the flashbacks and anxiety they suffer despite never having been at the crime scene. “I wasn’t actually in that theater, but I listened to and felt the experiences of everyone who was, from every angle,” said a 36-year-old marketer who wants to be identified only as juror number 1009. “I felt their sorrow and their sadness. And when I left the courtroom, I took it all with me.” The names of the 12 who deliberated and 12 alternates were sealed throughout the trial and remain confidential by court order. Three spoke to AP on condition that only their first names be used, citing concerns for safety and privacy. The marketer, asked to not be identified by name.