Jury pool down to 41 in trial of officers charged in the death of Elijah McClain

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Adams County Justice Center in Brighton, Colorado, on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, where jury selection is underway for the trial of Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema, who were charged in the death of Elijah McClain.

The pool of 250 potential jurors has been culled to 41 during the third day of jury selection for the first trial in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.

Officer Randy Roedema and former officer Jason Rosenblatt face charges of criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and assault. They have pleaded not guilty.

The racial makeup of jurors became a sticking point on Tuesday at the Adams County Justice Center in Brighton and led to some tense moments in the courtroom. Prosecutors said they believed the defense wanted to exclude a juror of color who had expressed sympathy for McClain. They issued a Batson challenge — an objection to a party's use of a peremptory strike to exclude a juror from the jury pool on the basis of race. The defense accused the prosecution of racism. That juror was eventually dismissed. 

Questioning was similar to Monday’s and dealt with relationships with law enforcement officers, media influence and previous encounters with law enforcement.

Several potential jurors were excused because of pre-existing relationships with law enforcement officers through family, close friends, and acquaintances through other channels such as coaching youth football. 

Most of the jurors were questioned on media coverage of the trial. Several expressed that they don’t trust the media. One said the trial has weighed heavily on them since hearing it on the radio to the point they couldn’t sleep at night.

Two jurors expressed language barriers that could potentially prevent them from making the correct decision in the trial.

The jury selection resumes Wednesday morning and is expected to wrap up before noon. Once the jury is seated, the trial will begin with opening statements.

Two other trials are on scheduled in the death of Elijah McClain. Another officer and two paramedics face the same charges of criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and assault. They have also pleaded not guilty.