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Feb 2, 2015

The Aurora Theater Shootings

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On July 20, 2012, a man dressed in costume as “The Joker” set off two tear gas containers during a midnight premier showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado and then opened fire on the packed crowd. He killed 12 people and wounded 58 others.

Here are the latest developments in the case:
Jury Votes Life for Holmes

Aug. 7, 2015 – A Colorado jury has voted to sentence convicted Aurora theater shooter James Holmes to life in prison without the possibility of parole rather than sentencing him to death.

The same jury that found Holmes guilty last month of killing 12 people and trying to kill 70 others who were wounded began deliberating in the final phase of the trial on Thursday and came to their verdict Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday morning, the jury asked to view a video of the gruesome crime scene in the theater, signaling to some court observers that they were going to vote for the death penalty.

When the verdict was announced Friday evening, the jury had unanimously agreed on the life sentence, apparently accepting defense attorney Tamara Brady’s opinion, “The death of a seriously mentally ill man is not justice, no matter how tragic the case is,” she said in closing arguments, “Please, no more death.”

Prosecutors could have obtained a life sentence for Holmes two years ago without the expense of the 15-week trial. Holmes’ attorneys had offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors steadfastly sought death instead.

Their rejection of the plea deal set off a series of delaying tactics by the defense team that postponed the trial for two years.
James Holmes Guilty of Murder

July 16, 2015 – A Colorado jury has found James Holmes guilty of 12 counts of first-degree murder for his shooting spree in a Aurora movie theater in July 2012. The jury deliberated a day and a half before returning verdicts on all 165 counts in connection with the 12 deaths and wounding of 70 other people.

The jury obviously rejected the claim that Holmes was legally insane when he dressed as The Joker and opened fire on the audience of a midnight premier showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century 16.

The jury found him guilty on all 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges related to the shooting.

The verdict comes almost three years after the shootings, and after his defense attorneys created every delay possible to try to keep their client from going on trial. The 27-year-old Holmes faces a possible death penalty.

The same jury will hear testimony in the penalty phase of his trial. Under Colorado law, to sentence him to death the jury has to vote unanimously for the death penalty.
Doctors Say Holmes Is Insane

July 8, 2015 – Aurora movie theater shooter James Homes was driven by deep-seated delusions that still persist and had no other motive for his killing spree an expert on schizophrenia testified. Dr. Raquel Gur said Holmes’ elaborate and bizarre delusions compared to those of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Dr. Gur is the second defense witness who has told the jury that Holmes was insane when he killed 12 people and wounded 70 others in an Colorado movie theater. The defense is trying to prove to the jury that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Earlier, neuropsychologist Rose Marie Manguso testified that she administered a battery of more than 20 validity test to determine if Holmes was faking his mental illness.

“The first question is always ‘Is the person faking? Are they feigning or malingering?'” Manguso told the jury. She said her testing showed no evidence that Holmes was “feigning or faking.”

Manguso said that rather than exaggerating his symptoms she believed Holmes “was holding back to some degree” and “underreporting some of his issues.”

Dr. Gur testified about the writings of Holmes that she reviewed both from before the shooting and from jail. She said they exhibited evidence of deep delusions and disorganized thinking.

“The symbols he has presented in his writing and described, I have never seen before. They did have a bizarre and pervasive nature – in the sense that he was building on it. It was one step after another. And you can see how the delusion builds,” Gur testified.

“Higher functioning people, namely those who have greater intellectual capacity (like the Unabomber), are the ones who come up with the most bizarre delusions.” Gur said. She said Holmes exhibited “more elaborate thinking, much wondering about the nature of the universe, that most of us just don’t think about.”

Gur said that Holmes believed that everyone was miserable and hated life and that his mission was to put them out of their misery. She asked him repeatedly if he was angry, did someone do him wrong, was he seeking revenge and he consistently answered, “No.”

Gur said she found no non-psychotic reason for the shooting and in her opinion if it were not for Holmes’ mental illness there would have been no shooting at all.
5th Juror Dismissed in Holmes Trial

June 16, 2015 – Only 19 jurors and alternates – 14 women and five men – are left to hear evidence in the Aurora theater shooting case after the judge dismissed a juror who recognized a witness who testified during the second week of the trial against James Holmes.

Judge Carlos Samour dismissed the juror because she had not been open about knowing one of the wounded survivors of the shooting, who testified earlier in the case.

“I don’t believe you have been completely forthcoming and candid with me,” Samour told the juror.

It was the fifth juror to be dismissed since the trial began April 27. All of the dismissed jurors have been women.

Three jurors were dismissed last week after they heard about a prosecutor’s Twitter message and then discussed among themselves the possibility of a mistrial.

On Monday, a fourth juror was dismissed after she learned that her brother-in-law had become a victim of a shooting and she became emotional in front of other jurors.

Meanwhile, the prosecution is continuing to present its case, calling his former psychiatrist who testified that she became so concerned about Holmes’ “homicidal thoughts” that she called his mother to express her concerns.

Dr. Lynne Fenton said she did not have any evidence that Holmes was actually planning to commit any violence, so she could not place him in a mental health hold and contact police.
Jury Seated in Theater Trial

April 14, 2015 – In what was probably the most massive selection process in history, a jury has been seated in the Colorado theater shooting trial. A panel of 12 jurors and 12 alternates will hear evidence in the trial of James Holmes.

The panel of 19 women and five men was chosen from an initial pool of almost 9,000 jurors who were summoned for duty on January 20. They answered questions on lengthy questionnaires and each was interviewed, some for hours, by the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

During the selection process, many jurors expressed concerns about how the community would react if they came to an unpopular verdict. The judge informed them that steps would be taken to protect their identities.

Jurors will not know if they are an alternate or a juror until the panel begins deliberations.

The jury will report April 27 to hear opening statements.
Holmes Trial Set for April 27

Mar. 17, 2015 – The date for opening statements in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting trial has been moved up more than a month. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. set opening statements for April 27 in the capital murder trial of James Holmes.

Jury selection that began January 20 with a pool of 9,000 potential jurors has apparently progressed more quickly than expected, prompting Judge Samour to move up the trial date. The date for opening statements was previously set for June.

Attorneys are continuing to question potential jurors about their views on mental illness and capital punishment. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the deaths of 12 people and the injury of 70 others.

Judge Samour has still not ruled on a defense motion for a change of venue for the trial.
Judge: Holmes Jury Selection Quicker Than Expected

Feb. 2, 2015 – The jury selection in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting case could possibly end a week earlier than expected because the process is going faster than expected. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said the selection is going so well, the first phase of the process could end within a week.

Judge Samour originally estimated that the first phase of the process would take until February 13, but now thinks it can be wrapped up by Monday, Feb. 9.

About 9,000 jurors were summoned for duty in the case. The entire selection process could last until May or June. The defendant, James Holmes, is present in the courtroom during the process.
Holmes Jury Selection Begins

Jan. 20, 2014 – After several delays over a two-year period, jury selection finally begins today in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting case, but don’t expect opening statements in the death penalty trial of James Holmes to begin anytime soon.

Some 9,000 potential jurors – a number believed to be the most in history – will begin showing up today 250 at a time to begin the selection process. The groups will be initially questioned by Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. and then will spend an estimated two to three hours answering a 70-item questionnaire.

That process will be repeated every morning and afternoon for groups of 250 for more than a month. Those who are not eliminated in the initial questioning will be questioned individually, a process known as voir dire, which is scheduled to begin February 17.

Because it is a death penalty case, each potential juror must be “death qualified,” which means they must be willing to impose the death penalty if they believe it is warranted.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and additional charges. Under Colorado law, the prosecution must prove during the trial that Holmes knew the difference between right and wrong at the time he killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in an Aurora theater on July 20, 2012.

The 9,000 potential jurors summoned in the case is thought to be the largest number called for duty in U.S. history. By comparison, only 1,200 jurors were summoned recently for the Boston Marathon bombing trial.
13 Theater Shooting Jurors Excused

Dec. 26, 2014 – It wasn’t difficult to excuse the first dozen jurors from the 9,000 who received summonses to serve in the murder trial of accused theater shooter James Holmes. Twelve of them were also listed as witnesses for the prosecution in the case.

Another person called as a potential juror in the case was an employee of the district attorney’s office. That leaves 8,987 potential jurors – who were mailed a summons December 11 – from which 12 jurors and 12 alternates can be chosen when jury selection officials begins January 20.

Choosing those 24 is expected to take up to five months. The judge does not expect opening statements to begin until late May or early June, court officials said.
Judge: No More Trial Delays

Dec. 10, 2014 – Time is apparently running out for the accused Aurora, Colorado theater shooter. The judge in the case has denied yet another request by attorneys for James Holmes to delay his murder trial.

Defense attorneys requested another trial delay because they said medical emergencies involving members of the defense team had made it impossible for them to be ready for next month’s trial.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. ruled that the defense has had enough time to review all the evidence in the case and any further delays in the trial for the 2012 incident would violate laws passed to protect the victims of crime.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 20, 2015.
Judge Won’t Bar Death Penalty

Dec. 4, 2014 – The judge in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting case has turned away still another attempt by the defense to take the death penalty off the table. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. refused to remove the death penalty from consideration because of the mental health of the defendant, James Holmes.

Attorneys for Holmes argued that the death penalty should not be considered because Holmes is mentally ill and putting him to death would be unconstitutional because it was cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Samour ruled that Holmes’ mental health was an issue that would be decided by the jury during his up-coming trial. He also ruled that the defense had not made a convincing argument that executing a mentally ill person was cruel and unusual punishment.

Holmes’ trial, for killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in a crowded movie theater in July 2012 is scheduled to go to trial January 20, after several delays.
Holmes Asks for Another Delay

Oct. 22, 2014 – In a motion that surprised absolutely no one, attorneys for James Holmes, the accused Aurora theater shooter, have asked for another trial delay. Holmes’ public defender asked for the delay to give the defense time to review the new mental evaluation filed with the court.

“There are simply not enough hours in the day for defense counsel to not only watch, but mentally process and digest 22 hours of forensic interviews of their client, flesh out all the legal issues involved,” the motion said.

The motion also said the second sanity examination by the doctor raises significant new issues and the defense could not be possibly ready by December 8 to address those issues.

Holmes’ trial was originally scheduled for February 2014, and later changed to October. The latest delay set the date of the trial for December 8.

The prosecution has not filed a written response to Tuesday’s pretrial motion. The next hearing is set for November 3.
Judge Readies Questions for Jurors

Oct. 7, 2014 – The judge in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting case has finalized at list of 75 questions he plans to use to ask 3,300 potential jurors who will be summoned for the December trial. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. plans to issue summons to 6,000 jurors for the murder trial of James Holmes for the killing of 12 people in July 2012.

Judge Samour hopes that 3,300 jurors out of 6,000 will answer the summons and given the questionnaire. Those who are not eliminated by the questionnaire will then be questioned individually in hopes of coming up with 100 qualified jurors for the trial.

The questions they will be asked will remain secret, however. Judge Samour has declined to release the questionnaire to the media.
December 8 Set as Holmes’ Trial Date

July 17, 2014 – District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. has set December 8 as the new trial date for the capital murder trial of accused Aurora, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes. This is the fourth date that has been set for the trial.

The trial was first set for August 2013, but that was delayed when prosecutors announced they were going to seek the death penalty. The second trial date, in February 2014, was changed when prosecutors requested a second mental evaluation of Holmes.

The October 14 trial date was delayed when the psychiatrist conducting the mental evaluation requested additional time to report his findings.
Aurora Theater Trial Delayed Again

July 9, 2014 – The first-degree murder trial of James Holmes for the deaths of 12 people and injury of 70 others in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater has been delayed again and no new date has been set.

The latest delay is due to the state mental hospital not being able to complete a second court-ordered psychological evaluation of the defendant, who has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The trial was scheduled to begin October 14, but hospital officials reported that they could not complete the evaluation and file a report until October 15. The report was supposed to be filed August 15.

Holmes is facing a possible death sentence if convicted.
Previous Developments

Trial Date Set for James Holmes
Feb. 27, 2014
For the third time, a Colorado judge has set a trial date for the man accused of shooting up an Aurora movie theater while dressed as the Joker. Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour scheduled October 14 as the date for the capital murder trial of James Holmes, who killed 12 people in July 2012.

New Exam Ordered for Theater Shooter
Feb. 19, 2014
A Colorado judge has ordered a new psychiatric evaluation for the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 in a 2012 shooting attack at an Aurora movie theater. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. ordered the new exam of defendant James Holmes because he ruled the first evaluation “incomplete and inadequate.”

Theater Shooting Trial Postponed
Nov. 20, 2013
A Colorado judge has indefinitely postponed the trial of the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting spree in a movie theater in July. District Judge Carlos Samour delayed the trial to deal with issues of defendant James Holmes’ mental health issues.

Theater Shooting Trial Could Last 8 Months
Oct. 11, 2013
Jurors who are chosen for the murder trial of a Colorado man who killed 12 people in an Aurora movie theater in July 2012 will be told the proceedings could last up to eight months, the judge has said. The jury selection for James Holmes’ trial alone could take up to two months, potential jurors will be told.

Theater Shooter Challenges Death Penalty
Sept. 3, 2013
Attorneys for a man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in a Colorado theater shooting have filed 20 motions last week in an effort to try to save him from the death penalty. James Holmes’ lawyers have launched a broad attack on the death penalty and how it is administered in Colorado.

Theater Shooter Facing Death Penalty
April 1, 2013
Rejecting a guilty plea offer from the accused, Colorado prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for the 25-year-old man who killed 12 people at an Aurora movie theater in July. James Holmes has been charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting during a Batman movie.

Aurora Shooter Faces 24 Murder Charges
Judy 30, 2012
The man who was arrested for shooting to death 12 people and wounding 58 others in a Colorado movie theater is now facing 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. For each person who died, James Holmes faces one count of premeditated murder and one count of murder with extreme indifference to the value of human life.

12 Killed in Colorado Theater Massacre
July 20, 2012
Twelve people were killed and as many as 50 injured in a Aurora, Colorado movie theater at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie. Police have in custody 24-year-old James Holmes who reportedly surrendered to police in a rear parking lot of the theater.

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