Judge delays trial in Colorado cinema
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[October 28, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - The judge presiding
over the Colorado cinema massacre case on Monday delayed the murder
trial of accused gunman James Holmes by six weeks to January, but denied
a request by defense lawyers for a lengthier postponement.
Holmes, 26, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to
criminal wrongdoing linked to the shooting deaths of 12 moviegoers
inside a suburban Denver movie theater during a midnight viewing of
a Batman film in July 2012.
His lawyers have conceded the former neuroscience graduate student
was the lone shooter in the attack, in which dozens of people were
wounded, but said he was in the throes of a psychotic episode at the
Issues surrounding two psychiatric evaluations of Holmes have caused
several scheduled trial dates to be pushed back, and his lawyers
asked for more time to analyze the results of the second round of
psychological testing, completed two weeks ago.
Prosecutors said the request was reasonable, and did not oppose a
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour agreed on Monday
to move the start of jury selection from early December to Jan. 20,
and said attorneys for both sides should be prepared to present
opening statements on June 3.
Holmes has been charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder
and attempted murder, and prosecutors have said they will seek the
death penalty for the southern California native if he is convicted.
Holmes underwent a mental evaluation last year after invoking the
insanity defense, but Samour ordered a second round of testing over
defense objections after finding the first examination deficient.
The conclusions of the evaluators have not been made public.
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Samour said he was “unpersuaded” by a defense argument that called
for an open-ended delay.
“The court has been adamant throughout these proceedings that it
will not allow unnecessary delays,” he said, adding that it is
expected to take four months to seat a jury for a trial that will
last four or five months.
Samour said potential jurors must be screened to determine if they
are willing to impose the death penalty if warranted, have not been
influenced by news media coverage, and can be “fair and impartial”
in a case that involves an insanity defense.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)
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