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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘Batman’ Movie Murder Trial Is Imminent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) - The trial of accused mass murderer James Holmes will commence without delay, a judge ruled.

Authorities arrested Holmes shortly after 12 people were killed and more than 70 were wounded in Aurora, Colo., during the July 20, 2012, midnight premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises."

The 26-year-old is charged with more than 160 counts including first-degree murder and weapons charges.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.

Citing the large workload, two medical emergencies affecting members of the defense team, and one attorney's duty to testify in another case, counsel for Holmes urged the court on Monday to delay the trial.

Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour said he would "have to think about it" but shot the request down Wednesday.

The 20-page opinion blacks out the nature of medical emergencies affecting the defense team. Samour noted that he "is very sympathetic," but that "these circumstances do not justify a continuance of the trial."

Samour also cited the Victims' Rights Act and public policy in denying the delay.

As for the claims that the defense is strapped for time, Samour pointed to the number of people it has working on the case.

"First, the office of the state public defendant has devoted seemingly unlimited resources and manpower to this case," he wrote. "There are at least six attorneys, four or five investigators, and multiple staff members assigned to this case. Thus, while 'the sheer size and magnitude of this case is virtually unparalleled,' the manpower and resources available to the defendant are equally unparalleled. In the eight years since taking the bench, the undersigned has not seen a case that has enjoyed anywhere close to the manpower and resources that have been dedicated by the defense to this case.

"Moreover, this case has been pending for two and a half years," the ruling continues. "Counsel, their skilled experts, and their staff have had a considerable amount of time to prepare for trial. Significantly, much of this time has been idle time- there has not been a lot of courtroom time required and the two court-ordered sanity examinations took the better part of a year to complete."

Samour concluded by noting his duty to finish the trial in a timely manner. Postponement would "deprive the prosecution of its right to a speedy trial, violate the Victims' Rights Act, interfere with the public's interest in the speedy and final disposition of this case, run counter to the interest of justice and erode the public's confidence in the justice system," the order states.

The start of jury selection is scheduled for Jan. 20, with oral arguments then slated for the spring. More than 9,000 jury summons will be sent to citizens of Arapahoe County as early as today.

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