Lochmiller jury mirrors investors
DENVER — The 15 people, mostly from the Front Range, who will decide the fate of Philip Rand Lochmiller have much in common with the investors and relatives of the investors he is accused of bilking of more than $30 million.
The jury, comprising nine women and six men, was selected Tuesday in a daylong process before Judge Philip A. Brimmer. Attorneys for both sides left in the jury pool until the last minute a career prosecutor, an expert in real estate law, two entrepreneurs and a man who said he wanted to serve but confessed to a strong dislike for corporate scandals.
Two people, both men, who said they had been laid off for long periods of time, were released early on, as were two potential jurors who told Brimmer they suspected there must have been something to the charges because “where there’s smoke, there is fire.”
Some of those who remained on the jury were introduced only slightly, and many who were carefully questioned were ultimately rejected.
What remains is a group of people, the youngest of whom is in her 30s and the others of who are in mid career, approaching retirement age or retired and often caring for spouses or relatives. Potential jurors were not required to provide their ages in public.
Most of the people Lochmiller is accused of bilking were elderly or retired or hoping to put together substantial retirement nest eggs with their investments in Valley Investments.
Though Lochmiller penned several notes and wrote frequently on a white legal pad as testimony began, he appeared to take little part in jury selection, looking impassively ahead as his court-appointed attorneys, Daniel Smith and Tom Hammond, conferred frequently on whether to keep or challenge potential jurors.
Among the selected jurors were a couple of people with master’s degrees, one with a background in human resources, one who previously served on a jury that handed down a guilty verdict, a registered nurse, a salesman, a technical instructor, an owner of a utilities company, a systems analyst, a volunteer caregiver for a 90-year-old woman, a warehouse operator, a retired teacher and school administrator, a retired roofer, a retired collections officer, a chef instructor, and a government worker.
In the gamesmanship of jury selection, prosecutors passed on their first two opportunities to dismiss jurors preemptorily, or without explanation, but eventually excused a fellow prosecutor and the downtown Denver real estate attorney.
Also dismissed were two people with significant entrepreneurial experience, one of whom had been president of his own audio-visual company for 15 years. Another with entrepreneurial experience as a self-employed publisher and editor also was dismissed, both by the defense.
Testimony will pick up again on Monday and can be viewed in the Wayne N. Aspinall federal courthouse in Grand Junction via a closed-circuit video feed.
Lochmiller faces multiple fraud-related counts and is free on a personal recognizance bond.