Colorado judge Carlos A. Samour has postponed the death penalty trial for movie theatre shooter James Holmes, 26, so that Holmes’s attorneys can have more time to evaluate a second report on their client’s sanity. The judge wrote in a Monday ruling that jury selection will start Jan. 20. It had been set for Dec. 8.
This new schedule won’t unnecessarily delay the case, but will simply gives Holmes’s attorneys time to analyse the second sanity exam and prepare for trial, Samour wrote in the order. Jury selection could take months, with opening statements to begin in early June, as previously expected. The trial previously had been delayed in part over two sanity evaluations of Holmes.
Holmes, a former graduate student in neuroscience, is accused of opening fire inside a packed movie theater in Aurora during a midnight showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, in July 2012, killing 12 people. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the 166 charges he faces in the rampage. Holmes’ attorneys argued in a motion filed last year that their client “suffers from severe mental illness and was in the throes of a psychotic episode when he committed acts that resulted in the tragic loss of life.”
Because the delay of more than a month will push the start of the jury selection process into 2015, court rules will result in a larger pool of potential jurors. Previous documents have indicated that the court will send summonses to 6,000 members of the jury pool.
Last month, the parents of a woman killed in the shooting filed a lawsuit accusing online retailers who allegedly sold Holmes ammunition, body armor, tear gas and other equipment of negligence.
The court has charged Holmes with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors have also said that death penalty will be sought for if Holmes gets conviction.
Holmes went through a mental evaluation the previous year after he invoked an insanity defense but a second round of testing over defense objections was ordered by the judge after he found the first examination deficient. The evaluation results were not made public.