Wednesday, November 9, 2011

People v. Laura J. Kriho — 96 CR 91 First Judicial District — Gilpin County


This case began on May 13, 1996, when Laura Kriho of Rollinsville, Colorado, a Colorado University researcher, was selected to sit on a jury to hear the criminal trial of 19-year-old Michelle Brannon in the district court of tiny Gilpin County. Brannon was accused of felony possession of methamphetamine, a schedule II controlled substance, criminal impersonation, and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Kriho was the twelfth juror seated. Jurors seated earlier were subjected to extensive voir dire questioning. However, it was late in the day. When asked by Judge Kenneth Barnhill the sole question, "Is there anything, whether I asked it or not, that you can think of that would interfere with your sitting as a fair and impartial juror," she replied, "No." She truthfully could not think of a reason why she could not serve the interests of justice in the case.

What went unasked and unanswered was that twelve years earlier Ms. Kriho had received a deferred sentence on a minor possession drug charge (see Appendix A). Upon the successful completion of two-year probation and 40 hours of community service the charges against her were supposedly dismissed. But, as in all such cases, the charges were still in official records (see and Appendix A.

The trial lasted two days, after which the jury began its deliberations. Apparently the jury quickly reached a verdict on the criminal impersonation and drug paraphernalia charges but after a mere four hours they could not agree on the possession charge. It seems Laura Kriho was the lone holdout.

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