AURORA, Colo. - Four of the jurors who served on the movie theater shooting trial are now banding together to raise money to support efforts to build a permanent memorial in Aurora. Their goal is to raise $200,000 by December 4.
Selected through a months-long process that began at the start of the year, the jurors eventually sat through several months of trial to hear evidence about the 12 people who were killed and the 70 who were injured in the July 20, 2012 mass shooting. In the end, the jury convicted the shooter on all counts and he'll never be free from prison again.
The trial was a deeply emotional experience, with mountains of disturbing evidence, but they want to redirect those feelings into a positive and healing project.
"We need to stop focusing on the trial and what happened and start focusing on the healing and what's going to happen afterward," juror Jessica told Denver7.
The jurors asked to share their thoughts, but requested their faces concealed in the recorded interview.
"We just don't want the focus to be on us," said juror Mona.
"We're all trying to find something positive from this experience and make a difference," juror Lydia said.
Aurora has already set aside space for the 7/20 memorial, but the jurors want to raise money for a permanent memorial to the victims.
"I think we as a community should honestly have no problem raising $200,000 to support the families and the victims," said Mona. "Having to ask the community for money for them to remember their loved ones? I don't think that that's something that they should have to be doing."
They've already received a $10,000 donation from a dentist implant center and have two planned fundraising events:
- Nov. 14: America's Bar & Grill on Iliff and Chambers will donate 20 percent of profits during the Rhonda Rousey UFC bout.
- Nov. 21: All Denver and Fort Collins Which Wich sandwich shops will donate 15 percent of profits to the cause.
Additionally, individuals can send donations through 720memorial.org.
-- Support for memorial effort "tells you a lot about their character" --
"Their whole purpose is to take the burden off of us," said Heather Dearman, cousin of survivor Ashley Moser and victim Veronica Moser-Sullivan. "They were the honest ones who got chosen. They didn't try to get out of jury service, so that tells you a lot about their character already."
Dearman met the jurors for the first time and cried during their interview with Denver7.
"As a family member, I got to choose what days of the trial I went to and what I saw, and they had to see everything and couldn't leave," said Dearman.
She sits on the 7/20 memorial committee and will have input on the final memorial.
"We can't really decide, or start talking about the art, or what exactly benches we want, until we know how much money we have," said Dearman.
Earlier this year, Dearman's daughter raised $8,000 through a lemonade stand to help the city pay for the memorial garden.
"She was like, 'Mom, is $8,000 enough to build the memorial?' And I had to say, 'No, we don't really have enough,' and she was like, 'I already have my next idea,'" said Dearman.
--Jurors talk about their lives since the trial--
- "I don't think our lives are what they were before April, and I think that that is part of the reason that we're here."
- "You are secluded and isolated for four months of your life, and you are told that you cannot talk to anybody and you cannot even talk to -- now this random group of people that you have to share space with -- and then, one day, you just go back to your real life? Unfortunately, we just didn't wake up and feel like real life was the same anymore."
- "I can't sit with my other friends and explain to them what is wrong with me and with them, I don't have to."
- "It's been a big struggle. We don’t know how to heal."
- "I'm sure all four of us have had everybody say, 'Why didn't you get out of it?' And you know, how do you answer a question like that? Again, it's definitely not something that we wanted to do. Somebody had to do it. And, I, personally went into it with an objective viewpoint. I didn't have a preconceived decision one way or another, and so I just feel like we did our duty. I wouldn't wish it on anybody, but again, it's not right for people to try to get out of it either because nobody wanted to go through it. And we were just the unfortunate ones who did."
- "Regardless of what you think regarding the outcome of the trial and the person in the trial, you could not sit in that courtroom every day and not feel for these people. For us to not want to have any contact with them, I think would be more abnormal."
- "You're like totally different people in eight months. It's like you go from one person to being somebody completely different."
- "I don't know that it's all necessarily negative, either. Like for me, I definitely don't sweat the small things anymore."
- "You couldn't talk. You couldn't go home to your husband and say, 'Hey, guess what? Today was just crazy.' Like, 'Let me tell you why I don't want to be around the kids. Let me tell you why I don't want to be around you.'"
- "You're bottling this up for months and months and months and then eventually, everybody's like, 'OK now, you can talk about it,' and I'm like, 'I don't want to talk about it, like are you kidding me right now?'"
- "The focus we want is the memorial. It's not about us."