A long-delayed jury trial is set to begin Friday for a man accused of killing a 13-year-old boy and wounding three others in a road-rage shooting spree in Westminster five years ago.
Jury selection will begin Friday morning in the trial of Jeremy Webster, 27, who is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and related counts in connection with the June 14, 2018, attack in the parking lot of a dentist’s office.
Webster has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prosecutors allege he killed 13-year-old Vaughn Bigelow Jr. and shot the boy’s then-8-year-old brother, his mother and a bystander in the road-rage-driven spree. The Bigelow family was on its way to a routine dental appointment that day when the boys’ mother, Meghan Bigelow, got into a confrontation with Webster after she tried to change lanes on Sheridan Boulevard, according to testimony offered during a preliminary hearing.
Webster followed the family to the corner of West 80th Avenue and Sheridan — the dentist’s office parking lot — where he got out of his car and shot Meghan, her children and the bystander. He then fled and was apprehended several hours later. Police said at the time that more than 20 people witnessed the bloodshed.
Webster originally was scheduled to go to trial in June 2019, but the case has been delayed numerous times because of issues connected to the COVID-19 pandemic and Webster’s mental health. The first scheduled trial, in 2019, was rescheduled because Webster had not yet received a mental health evaluation. The next date, in April 2020, was postponed for a similar reason.
Webster’s trial was then set to begin in July 2021 and did actually start with jury selection before the judge declared a mistrial because a key witness suffered a medical emergency.
The trial was then reset for October 2021, but one of the attorneys was on family medical leave, so it was postponed. At the next trial date in January 2022, Webster’s public defenders refused to go forward with an in-person trial, citing concerns about safety during a spike in COVID-19 cases, according to court records. A judge then removed the public defenders from the case and appointed new attorneys, court records show.
Those new attorneys were given several months to prepare for trial, which was set for September 2022 and then moved to January 2023 before finally being rescheduled for Friday, court records show.
Webster pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2020. That means he claims he cannot be held criminally responsible for the killing because he was legally insane at the time of the crime. If he is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed to a mental health facility for treatment, rather than prison, and could eventually be released if he is later found to be sane.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Webster faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Prior testimony in the case has shown that Webster has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was on anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications at the time of the shooting.
Jury selection on the case is expected to last into Tuesday, with opening statements expected Tuesday or Wednesday.
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