Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes hearing: Jury selection could take months

If you live in Arapahoe County, there is a .01 percent chance you will be called for jury selection in the case of accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes -- odds far greater than winning the Colorado Powerball. Approximately 6,000 possible jurors will be summoned, the judge in the case said -- and of those, 24 will be chosen.

At a court hearing Thursday, attorneys discussed the logistics of that selection process.

A bearded and bedraggled Holmes sat in silence in a red jumpsuit next to his attorneys. Holmes is accused of killing twelve people and injuring seventy more by opening fire in an Aurora movie theater in July 2012. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Jury selection for his trial is scheduled to start in October. It could take several months, meaning a jury might not be in place until next year, according to Judge Carlos Samour.

Both sides of the case want to keep the jury selection closed to public and media until the final choices. Samour did not decide on Thursday whether to grant their request. From the initial pool of 6,000 potential jurors, the sides will choose 68 who will be questioned until 24 jurors for the trial are picked. Of those, twelve will be alternatives.

"This case has been extraordinary in the case of publicity," said Daniel King, one of Holmes's public defenders. "If there are jurors that are worried about who was knocking on their door, that is extremely troubling to us."

Samour is also waiting until a later date to decide whether attorneys will be allowed to introduce questions about insanity during jury selection. Defense attorneys want to introduce the issue to jurors in the initial screening, but prosecutors have objected.

"I think we're pretending if we think we can avoid that topic. We're going to have lots of people wanting to talk about these issues," King said.

The main logistics of the jury selection were also discussed at the hearing. "It's not like we have cases like this every day. We're going to have to do the best we can," Samour said.

The selection will start at 9 a.m. every weekday and continue until 5 p.m. Holmes and attorneys from both sides will be present. Samour will introduce the process and the case to jurors and then the attorneys and Holmes will leave the potential jurors to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, which will start the process.

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "Update: Aurora theater shooting witness-victims won't be barred from watching trial."

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Mary Willson started contributing to Westword as an intern in the summer of 2014, focusing on the electronic music scene in Colorado.
Contact: Mary Willson