Colorado Seeks Death|for Movie Murders

     DENVER (CN) – Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the former medical student accused of killing 12 people while shooting up a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last year.
     James Holmes, sole suspect in the massacre that killed 12 and injured dozens, showed no emotion Monday as Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler announced his decision.
     “In this case, for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” Brauchler said.
     Brauchler said he had not shared his decision with anyone, including fellow prosecutors, before the hearing.
     Brauchler said he based his decision on interviews with more than 800 victims and relatives.
     Chief Judge William Sylvester has reassigned the case to Judge Carlos Samour, citing the likelihood of a long, demanding trial.
     “Many and varied duties require a Chief Judge’s attention,” Sylvester wrote in an order he signed during a 30-minute recess. “As Chief Judge, the primary duty to the citizens is to ensure the smooth operation of our courts and probation department. Given the logistical demands of coordinating the effects of the enormous consumption of resources a death penalty case of this magnitude entails, and the reality that a final resolution of this case is now likely years away, reassignment of this case is appropriate at this time.”
     With Judge Samour on the bench, the parties contentiously sought a schedule for a capital trial.
     When prosecutor Rich Orman called a defense request to submit motions in categories, rather than all at once, “a recipe for delay,” defense attorney Tamara Brady responded, “They are trying to execute our client, and we will do whatever we can to save his life.”
     Brady said the defense team must pore over more than 37,000 pages of discovery and interview more than 3,000 law enforcement officials.
     She requested a nine-month trial, beginning in late 2014, and asked for a hearing on every issue the defense submits to the court.
     “This is the most important case this court, this courthouse, will ever hear,” Brady said.
     Prosecutors asked for a three-month trial starting in January 2014.
     Samour said he would be “aggressive in moving things ahead,” while considering the volume of work Holmes’ attorneys face.
     He set a trial date for Feb. 3, 2014, and allotted four months for it.
     Samour compromised on the motions issue, by allowing the parties to submit in two categories.
     Non-capital motions must be filed by May 31, with responses due on June 28. Replies are due on July 12.
     Capital motions, which both parties said will take more time to complete, must be filed by Sept. 27, with responses due on Oct. 25 and replies on Nov. 8.
     The court will hold non-capital motions hearings in August and capital motions hearings in November and December.
     Samour said the new trial date could go ahead only if Holmes waived his right to speedy trial. The defense said that Holmes would sign the waiver over the lunch break.
     Later Monday, the gallery’s attention shifted to Fox News reporter Jana Winter, who appeared under subpoena but did not testify. Winter is accused of violating a gag order by publishing a story in which two unnamed law enforcement officials said that Holmes had sent his psychiatrist a notebook detailing “how he was going to kill people.”
     Attorneys Dori Hanswirth and Michael Theis, with Hogan Lovells in New York and Denver respectively, wrangled with Holmes’ attorneys over whether Winter’s sources were protected by state and federal laws.
     Hanswirth said that Winter “should not have to be here at all,” and that the subpoena had severely harmed the reporter.
     “Ms. Winter’s sources are not talking to her,” Hanswirth said. “She cannot function as an investigative journalist with this subpoena hanging over her head.”
     The New York-based reporter has also been threatened online, Hanswirth said.
     Winter’s attorneys said the subpoena should be quashed because the defense could not prove that the leaks prejudiced Holmes or that Holmes’ attorneys had exhausted reasonable means of discovering the source of the leak.
     Hanswirth said that since the defense had already publicized a proposed deal under which Holmes would plead guilty, a single news story published last July was largely irrelevant at this point.
     Samour put off a ruling until April 10 to allow defense attorneys to ask more specific questions of two police officers who have firsthand knowledge of the notebook’s contents. That, the judge said, would exhaust the reasonable means of discovering the source of the leak.
     Hanswirth previously argued that a Colorado shield law protects reporters from testifying at criminal trials to which they are not a party, unless it is a “last resort.”
     Winter’s attorneys agreed that Judge Samour had the authority to order the reporter to return to court if he decides that her testimony is vital to the trial.

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