CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) – Jury selection in the trial of accused mass murderer James Holmes begins Tuesday, two years after the movie theater massacre.
Holmes, 27, is accused of opening fire on a crowd of movie goers during a midnight premiere of ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Rises’ in an Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012. Twelve people died and dozens were wounded.
Holmes is charged with more than 160 counts, including murder. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
It took almost two years for the trial to begin. It was delayed for the first time in 2013 when prosecutors claimed that Holmes’ psychiatric evaluator was biased. Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour ordered a second sanity examination , which was completed last fall.
The defense team sought delays several times last year for different reasons, including not having enough time to study the second sanity evaluation , and recently, because two members of the defense had medical emergencies .
Samour granted a few weeks delay to give both sides time to look through the sanity examination. He did not grant a continuance for the medical emergencies.
Nine thousand citizens in Arapahoe County received jury summonses in December.
A motion by the prosecution this month revealed that of those 9,000 people, nine are involved in the case . Those people include four prosecution witnesses, two friends of witnesses, one employee of the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office, one friend of the district attorney and one employee of the movie theater where the shooting took place. Only the four witnesses were excused .
In an October 2104 order , Samour said the jurors will be greeted by an instructional video featuring Samour and will have to answer at least 75 questions.
In May 2014, Samour ruled that Holmes will be allowed to be present at the beginning of the questionnaire section and estimated that it will take months for a pool of 12 jurors and 12 alternate jurors to be chosen.
Samour said he expects opening statements to begin in May or June.
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