The trial began Wednesday against three people, Glenn Morris, Julie Todd and Koreena Montoya, who were arrested on October 6 and charged with blocking the annual Columbus Day Parade. Charges against a fourth anti-Columbus Day agitator, Russell Means, were dismissed by a Denver County Court Judge (eliciting a cheer from the people in the courtroom). The cases are the first of 83 scheduled for trial.
Judge Claudia Jordan showed little patience with either the defense or the prosecution, however, after jury selection lasted well into the afternoon. She allowed only fifteen minutes for opening statements combined.
She also denied a request by defense attorney David Lane to allow witnesses –- a list that now includes Westword reporter Jared Jacang Maher -– to be allowed into the courtroom before their testimony was required. Denver Police Department Commander Debra K. Dilley was the first witness to take the stand Wednesday. She testified about the police presence and the actions of the protestors.
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The prosecution believes protestors broke a variety of city ordinances that day by blocking the parade. The lawyers for the defendants made various opposing arguments, saying their clients may not have known they were breaking the law, that the police may not have sufficiently warned them and that Columbus was a murderer and a slave trader.
The trial is expected to last at least until Friday. -- Jonathan Shikes