Judge in Colorado cinema massacre case won't delay trial again

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2014 6:53 PM

By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis

DENVER (Reuters) - A judge overseeing the Colorado movie theater massacre case said on Wednesday he will not delay the trial of gunman James Holmes again, rejecting a request by the defense for more time to study the results of a second court-ordered sanity exam.

Jury selection in the trial of Holmes, 26, is due to start next month, and Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour has previously told lawyers for both sides to be ready to present their opening statements in late May or early June.

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

His lawyers concede he was the sole gunman, but argue that the former neuroscience graduate student was suffering from a psychotic episode at the time. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

Defense lawyers asked last week for the trial to be delayed to give them more time to study the results of Holmes' second sanity exam, which they said run to nearly 5,000 pages of documents and more than 20 hours of video.

On Monday, they told the judge their team had also been hit by two medical emergencies.

The prosecution had opposed any further delay to the trial.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Samour said the defense will have had ample time to study the results of the second exam by the time trial begins, and he said they had failed to identify specific materials their experts were unable to view.

"If such vague allegations were sufficient, every criminal defendant could be entitled to a postponement of his trial," the judge wrote.

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

While Samour said he sympathized with the defense and the "tragic events" of their medical emergencies, he said that likewise they were not grounds to delay a case that has been pending for two and a half years.

The judge also said a majority of victims polled oppose any further holdups.

"Simply put, it is time for this case to proceed to trial," Samour wrote.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Sandra Maler)