Judge in Colorado theater shooting case to rule on trial delay soon

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2014 2:06 PM

By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (Reuters) - A judge overseeing the case of a mass shooting at a Colorado theater in 2012 said Monday he would rule within a couple of days on a defense request to delay the trial again.

Lawyers for the gunman, James Holmes, made their latest request for the trial to be delayed last week, adding on Monday that medical emergencies had also affected two members of the defense team.

Holmes, 26, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire inside a Denver-area theater during a midnight screening of the Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," in July 2012, killing 12 and wounding dozens.

Holmes' lawyers had requested that the trial be delayed in a motion made public Friday, arguing they had not had time to study the voluminous results of a second sanity exam undergone by their client.

At a trial-readiness conference on Monday, the defense said that two medical emergencies, one affecting an investigator and another a lawyer, had compounded their problems.

After conferring in private with both sides, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour said the prosecution objected to the trial being further delayed, and that he would issue a ruling on the matter within a couple of days.

"These are difficult decisions, and I don't think it's the best course of action - to decide without thinking about it," Samour told the court.

Defense lawyer Daniel King said his team's experts were still wading through nearly 5,000 pages of documents and more than 20 hours of video from Holmes' second court-ordered sanity exam. And there was more to come, King said, adding he doubted that the prosecutions' experts were finished either.

Public defenders concede Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, was the only gunman involved in the incident, but say he was suffering a psychotic episode at the time. Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty for Holmes if he is convicted.

The trial of the California native has already been delayed several times, primarily because of the two mental examinations he was ordered to undergo after invoking the insanity defense.

The judge has previously told both sides to be ready to present their opening statements in late May or early June.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)