The disclosure came during a hearing before Arapahoe County
District Court Judge Carlos Samour centering on jury selection and
other logistical issues ahead of the trial set for October.
Holmes, 26, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder
and attempted murder stemming from a July 2012 rampage at a suburban
Denver cinema during a screening of a Batman movie in which 12
moviegoers were killed and 70 others injured.
Lawyers for the former neuroscience graduate student have conceded
Holmes was the lone gunman but say he suffers from a chronic mental
illness. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty for the
California native if he is convicted.
Public defenders said in a motion that the public and media be
barred from the entire jury selection process because of the
“overwhelming amount of publicity” generated by the case.
“Prospective jurors are likely to be extremely reticent to candidly
discuss their views on important issues like the insanity defense,
the death penalty and their knowledge and opinions ... in the face
of the intense media scrutiny,” the motion said.
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Prosecutor Karen Pearson told Samour the blackout idea marked “one
of the few times” both sides have agreed on an issue. She said that
closing the process was warranted until an initial jury pool of
6,000 has been pared down, but stopped short of saying the whole
process should be closed.
Attorneys for a consortium of news
outlets filed notice that they will submit a motion to oppose
closing the proceedings. Samour said he would rule on the motion
after reviewing the media objections.
Shackled and wearing red prison garb, Holmes sat silently throughout
the two-hour proceeding.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)
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