The deadly shooting that took place at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater was nearly three years ago, and jury selection finally wrapped Tuesday. But when is James Holmes' trial? Opening statements are scheduled to start April 27. The trial, which would wrap around August or September, is expected to be one of the most difficult court cases to play out ever, largely due to the nature of the crimes and circumstances surrounding Holmes' trial.
There have been some questions as to why his trial has taken so long to begin. This is in fact Holmes' fifth trial date. In August 2013, his first trial was canceled because prosecutors said they would pursue the death penalty, which opened new legal processes. The second trial was held off after prosecutors asked for another evaluation of Holmes' sanity. The third was set for Oct. 14, but the judge delayed it to Dec. 8 after the doctor evaluating Holmes asked for an extension. The fourth date in December was postponed so Holmes' defense team could have more time with the doctor's evaluation.
The trial is especially complex because of the gravity of Holmes' crimes. He faces 166 felony counts, which include multiple murder and attempted murder charges. If he's found guilty, he could be sentenced to death, which prosecutors say is the only way to bring peace to the victims and their families. The only other option would be life in prison.
There are also questions over Holmes' mental state. His defense team acknowledges he was behind the attack that left 12 people dead and wounded 70 others. But his lawyers argue he was suffering from a psychotic episode when he opened fire in the packed movie theater. There have been two psychological evaluations of Holmes, but their results have yet to be revealed. Prosecutors say he was fully aware of his actions, which included booby-trapping his apartment with home-made explosives.
The jury selection was one of the largest and most difficult process in the country's history, experts said. The massacre took place in a small Colorado community, which meant some in the original 9,000-person jury pool knew or were connected to a victim. Holmes' public notoriety also made it difficult to find jurors who had no opinion of his guilt. Those morally against the death penalty were excused. Eventually, 12 jurors and 12 alternates were chosen in a nearly all-white jury.
Attorneys from both sides said that this trial will undoubtedly be a taxing and emotional process. With the jury now selected and a court date finalized, what remains to be seen in the coming months is whether Holmes will be found not guilty by reason of insanity or be found guilty and face death or life in prison.
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