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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Health Crises Spell Mass-Murder Trial Delay

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) - The judge in the case of accused mass murder James Holmes said Monday that he needs a few more days to decide whether to delay the trial.

Holmes, 26, is accused of killing 12 people and wounding dozens more during a midnight premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora on July 20, 2012.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.

Attorneys in the case met Monday for what was supposed to be the last hearing before the sending of 9,000 jury summonses.

At the very beginning of the hearing, however, defense attorney Daniel King asked to approach the bench to seek a continuance, stating that two members of the defense team, including one attorney and one investigator, had medical emergencies.

With two team members gone, they would need more time, King said.

Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour eventually told the court that the prosecution opposed the motion, and that he needed some time to rule.

"I will need to think about it a little bit and see how to proceed," he said.

In a previous request for a delay, the defense told the court this past October that they did not have enough time to look through 22 hours of video recordings of Holmes' sanity examination.

That motion was denied, but attorneys asked for a delay again Friday based on the fact that King's duty to testify in another case would be taken away from work on the trial.

"Since the court ruled on motion D-245, Daniel King, one of Mr. Holmes' lead attorneys, has spent a considerable amount of time testifying in the post-conviction proceedings in another capital case in Arapahoe County through no choice of his own," the Friday motion states. "Mr. King was subpoenaed to testify by post-conviction counsel in this case, and began his testimony shortly after the defense received Dr. Reid's report. To date, he has spent a total of 8 full work days testifying in that case, and has been forced to spend a significant amount of additional time preparing to testify.

"Mr. King's obligations to provide testimony in that case have greatly hindered his ability to prepare for trial in this case. While there are obviously other attorneys on the defense team, the division of labor on the team (which was established long before the situation in the other case arose) is such that Mr. King is primarily responsible for examining a number of key mental health experts in this case, including Dr. Reid. Dr. Reid's examination has produced exceptionally voluminous materials, which were disclosed to the defense during the time period that Mr. King has been testifying in the other matter. As such, Mr. King has not yet had the opportunity to review these materials and requires additional time to prepare for trial. If forced to proceed to trial on January 20, 2015, he will be unable to provide Mr. Holmes with the effective assistance to counsel."

Samour did not say Friday when the trial would be rescheduled if he ruled in favor of a continuance. In a previous hearing, Samour said he expects the trial to start in early May or June 2015.

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