Last week, attorneys representing accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes requested yet another delay in jury selection, which had been set for December 8 -- and prosecutors didn't object. That put Judge Carlos Samour, who's overseeing the case, in a difficult position. But while he's now agreed to push back the trial's start to January 20, he insists that opening statements will take place as previously envisioned -- by early June. Continue for photos, details and Samour's latest ruling in its entirety.
As we've reported, Holmes has been charged with killing twelve people and injuring seventy others during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Aurora Century 16 theater in July 2012. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Fox News points out that jury selection was supposed to take place in August 2013, but that was nixed when prosecutors decided to seek the death penalty.
The next date, according to reports from our Melanie Asmar, was this past February -- but that was postponed until October 15 after prosecutors in the case requested a second sanity evaluation for Holmes. The delay extended to December 8 after Dr. William Reid, the examiner tasked with conducting evaluation two, asked for more time to complete his work.
The tone of Samour's ruling suggests that the latest request for a continuance frustrates him. He writes:
The Court has been adamant throughout these proceedings that it will not allow unnecessary delays. Consistent with its repeated declarations to avoid inappropriate delays, the Court continues to plan on opening statements taking place in early June.
Since June had been the previous opening-statements target, Samour declares that "the defendant's request for a continuance is largely denied." But the operative word is "largely." He adds:
Nevertheless, the Court rearranges the scheduled events in November, December and January to allow the defendant additional time to litigate any issues he may raise with respect to Dr. Reid's examination and to afford his attorneys ample time and opportunity to effectively represent him at trial. In doing so, the Court ensures that the defendant will not be prejudiced by the denial of his request for a lengthy continuance, while at the same time averting a delay in the case.
Later in the document, Samour acknowledges that "the defendant now argues that he needs more than three months to litigate any issues he may raise related to Dr. Reid's examination and to prepare for trial." However, he deadpans, "the Court is unpersuaded."
The January 20, 2015 start of jury selection isn't the only date laid out by Samour. He also stresses that "counsel should be prepared to make their opening statements on June 3." We expect those victims who objected to any more delays will be watching closely to make sure attorneys on both sides stick to it.
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Here's Samour's order.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.