Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2007

With jury selected, trial begins today

Six men, six women to decide fate of alleged arsonist Jason Rose

February 7, 2007


Jury selected for 'Boardwalk Fire' trial

A jury of six men and six women will hear the case of Jason Rose - the man accused of setting a fire that killed three people at the Boardwalk Apartments. Enlarge video

After hours of sometimes intense questioning, District Court Judge Jack Murphy approved a jury of six men and six women who will decide Jason Rose's fate.

Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan and defense attorney Ron Evans on Tuesday selected the 12 jurors from a pool of more than 100.

Rose's trial begins at 9 a.m. today with opening statements. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, aggravated arson and seven aggravated batteries in connection with the October 2005 Boardwalk Apartments fire.

During the course of the trial, attorneys have said, jurors likely will hear evidence against Rose including an alleged confession to Lawrence police Detective Troy Squire - a confession in which Squire said Rose admitted to starting fires in the past.

Evans said Tuesday that he expected to cross-examine almost every prosecution witness, a process both attorneys said could extend the trial at least two weeks.

That amount of time in court, along with the high-profile nature of the case, fueled much of the juror questioning - specifically, when Evans began calling on individual jury candidates Tuesday afternoon.

The trial, he told potential jurors, would be long and often intense. For people prone to distraction, he said, this trial might not be the right fit for them.

"You're going to get a chance to see the so-called confession," Evans said, referring to Rose's taped interview with police shortly after the fire. "You're going to have to pay attention to it. It's hours and hours long."

During McGowan's questioning, one potential juror revealed that she had been close friends with one of the fire victims, Yolanda Riddle.

"Do you think this will have an effect on your ability to hear the case?" McGowan asked.

"Definitely," the potential juror replied, before being excused from the pool.

Others dropped out of the pool for other reasons. Several expressed doubt in their ability to hear the case because of their exposure to news accounts about Rose and the fire.

McGowan told the juror pool that both media coverage and word-of-mouth information could affect their ability to be fair and emotionless in court.

"This was a tremendous incident that has had a lasting impact," she said. "I think a lot of people have discussed it."

But some feelings about the trial came from elsewhere.

One juror told McGowan that he was a relative of Charles Glover Sr., who died along with four of his grandchildren in a fire last year on New Jersey Street. The potential juror said the emotions of the fire that killed his brother-in-law were too fresh.

He was dismissed.

Who's Who in the Rose Trial

Amy McGowan Assistant district AttorneyAge: 46Lives in: Kansas CityEducation: J.D. KU, 1984. Bachelors degree in film studies, KU, 1981.In brief: McGowan was hired earlier in 2005 by Dist. Atty. Charles Branson. Before that she had been a Jackson County, Mo. prosecutor since 1988 and previously worked from 1985 to 1988 in the Shawnee County Dist. Atty.'s office. She also prosecuted the state's murder case against Thomas E. Murray, a Kansas State professor convicted in 2005 of killing his wife.

Jason Allen RoseAge: 21Lives in: LawrenceIn brief: Just days after the last embers of the 76-unit building at the Boardwalk Apartments, prosecutors had charged Jason Allen Rose, the just 20 years old, with setting the fire that killed three people. A former group home resident who had just moved into the 76-unit building months before, Rose had a history of arson during his time in foster care - and a bumpy family background often fraught with abuse and abandonment.

Detective Troy SquireAge: 34Experience: 10-year veteran with the Lawrence Police DepartmentIn brief: Squire interviewed Jason Rose at length in the days following the Boardwalk Apartment fire, eventually capturing a confession that jurors will be allowed to weigh as evidence during trial.

Jose GonzalezFire VictimIn Brief: Described as a free spirit and a dedicated worker, Gonzalez died at 50 years old the night of Oct. 7 in the Boardwalk fire. From Edinburg, Texas, he graduated from high school in San Antonio and had lived in Lawrence for more than three years.He worked for Quality Electric, Inc., when he died, leaving behind two sisters, five brothers and a love for pool, sports and his neices and nephews.

Yolanda RiddleFire VictimIn brief: A social worker with a big heart, Riddle worked for the state Social and Rehabilitation Services in Ottawa when she died in the Boardwalk Fire. She earned degrees from Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas University and Washington University in St. Louis, and was a member of the Dine Indian Nation.Seldom speaking about the job she loved, it took her death for her family to fully understand the passion she had for helping others. She was 35 years old when she died.

Nicole BinghamFire VictimIn brief: A senior at Kansas University when she died in the Boardwalk Apartment fire, Bingham made fast and close friends during her time at the university and in the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.She survived open heart surgery six years before she died, always assuming that her heart defect, not fire, would end her life.

Judge Jack A. MurphyBirthdate: Oct. 10, 1943Admitted to practice in Mo. in 1971.Admitted to practice in KS. 1982.Contact: 785-832-5248

Ronald F. Evans, defense attorney for Jason A. RoseChief Attorney for the Kansas Death Peanality Defense UnitBirthdate: 1957Admitted to practice in Okla. in 1983.Admitted to practice in KS. in 1996In brief: Evans is a capital crimes attorney who has heard death peanility cases in both Kansas and Oklahoma.

Yolanda Jacksonassociate professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral ScienceEducation: Doctorate from University of Alabama and completed internship at Children's Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla.In brief: Jackson, a child development expert, will be one of the defenses primary witnesses. She has interviewed Rose several times, and will help bolster the defense's argument that because of his background of abuse, his confession to police may not have been accurate.


Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

Marion, you missed two important points. First, you must be guilty (have committed the crime) in order to plea bargain. Jason maintains his innocence and will be found innocent by the jury. Second, no one who knows Jason would think that he is "nuts"; innocent, naive, or slow; but, not nuts.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

Smitty, you will have a long wait to find out why "Rose set the box of letters from his absent family on fire..." You may have missed that in the preliminary trial that there was NO box of letters or pictures from Jason's dad. Detective Squires testified that the department had checked with the Post Office, UPS, Fed X, and other delivery companies -- No one had delivered a box to Jason. The box was simply an idea that Detective Squires gave to Jason during the interview when Jason could not tell him how the fire started. I have talked with Jason's dad and other family members. Not one of them had sent Jason anything, let alone a box of cards and pictures. You also need to know that Detective Squires originally suggested that Jason had lit a piece of paper on fire. Detective Squires was told by fire inspectors that a piece of paper could not have provided enough combustion. The Detective than lied to Jason and told him that a "scientific test" had been done. He told Jason that he would have had to set something bigger on fire, "like a box". Thus, after Detective Squires lied to Jason about the paper Jason lied to Detective Squires about the box. This is just one of many truths that will come out during the trial.

lasseter 11 years, 1 month ago

I wish I had a dollar for everytime I said "What in the h*** were you thinking??!!!" As a parent to six Children I have seen our kids do some of the most asanine things. Our hearts break for Jason !! Our "troubled" child has managed to grow up in spite of himself. In and out of jail for stupidity. I keep thinking by the grace of God there go I.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

Smitty, There is nearly fourteen hours of interview video. Jason denied any wrong doing for the first nine hours. Jason finally gave in around 1:00 AM after being told for nine hours that he was lying. This was three hours after Jason told Detective Squires that he did not want to talk anymore. The defense has stated that the jury will see all of the interview.

Jason also asked several times if the person who helped him (Power of Attorney) could come and be with him. His POA had also told police at 11:30 PM, two hours prior to the suggested confession, that Jason should not be questioned further without an attorney present. The POA had also been told at 7:00 PM (2 plus hours after detainment), when he called the Lawrence Police Department, that Jason was not with the Police.

You asked for a link - if you mean Internet - no. If you are asking if Iam linked, yes I am.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

Yes, it is open court unless you are a listed witness. Thanks for listening.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

I did not say that Jason did not have any photos. He had a small box that he had carried from placement to placement for years. Many photos were old and worn. Some had been torn by other foster kids that were mean to Jason. However, there is still no box of photos sent to Jason by his dad as the charges allege. Further, if the prosecution insists that Jason set the box of pictures on fire then how did they find this box of pictures in his apartment to enter into evidence? It seems that the prosecutor has solved the age old conundrum of being able to have your cake and eat it too; but, in this case you can burn your photos and have them too.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

Smitty, I am not sure what doesn't jive nor, what other thread you are referring to. Please expound.

Bob Kidder 11 years, 1 month ago

Smitty, What evidence do you base your decision on?

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