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October trial date set in Colorado movie attack

By: Associated Press
February 27, 2014 Updated: February 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm
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CENTENNIAL — The man charged in the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater in 2012 now faces trial in October.

However, Judge Carlos A. Samour added as he set the date Thursday that it's possible the trial may be further delayed as prosecutors and defense attorneys spar over sanity evaluations of James Holmes.

"As much as I know people are eager to have this trial take place ... I also want to make sure we're doing things right," Samour told lawyers at a court hearing, noting that, among other factors, a mental health expert may ask for more time to examine Holmes. "We're all going to have to be flexible."

Samour said the trial would start Oct. 14 with the opening of a lengthy jury selection process. Samour said 6,000 potential jurors will be summoned, and those who respond will be interviewed by lawyers at a rate of 300 a day for at least two weeks to determine the panel.

Holmes is charged in the July 2012 attack that killed 12 people and injured 70 at a movie theater in Aurora, a Denver suburb. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

At the hearing Thursday, Holmes wore a red jail uniform and sat quietly at the defense table.

A lawyer for Holmes, Tamara Brady, told Samour that Holmes would challenge the judge's Feb. 20 order granting a prosecution request that Holmes undergo a second mental evaluation.

"That could delay things as well," said Brady, who had asked earlier Thursday that no trial date be set yet.

Brady said that when the challenge to the mental exam is formally lodged, likely within the next two weeks, Holmes would also request that the evaluation be postponed until the question is resolved. Samour had earlier given the state hospital until July 11 to submit a new report on Holmes's mental state, and trial cannot begin until that report is complete.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, which, like the insanity plea, is a factor that means extra time in court for special arguments.

The original trial date was in August. That was pushed to February after prosecutors announced they were seeking the death penalty. The February date was abandoned when prosecutors requested that Holmes undergo a second mental health evaluation.

In granting the request for a second mental evaluation, Samour said the first evaluation by the state mental hospital was "incomplete and inadequate."

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