Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes Trial Will Start on January 20 and That's That, Judge Rules

In October, Judge Carlos Amour, who's overseeing the Aurora theater shooting case, agreed to push back the start of jury selection to January 20, 2015 -- the fifth postponement overall. But he refused to move the time for opening statements beyond its previous early June schedule.

That didn't stop Holmes's defense team from requesting yet another delay. To that, Samour has offered a simple answer: no.

See also: James Holmes Case: Jury Selection Delayed for Fifth Time, Expected to Take Months, published on October 28

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.

Jury selection was originally 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.

When another request for a continuance cropped up in October, Samour's response suggested frustration. In his ruling on the matter, he wrote:
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.
Nonetheless, Samour agreed to rejigger his schedule to allow jury selection to start on January 20 while still maintaining the early June opening-statements time frame.

Now, a new request from the defense to delay things further has gotten nowhere.

The defense team's arguments in favor of another postponement include the voluminous amount of material attorneys must digest, new discovery, prosecution's continued updating of the witness list and a category that appears in Samour's just-issued ruling under the heading "Defense Counsel Have Been Busy." Samour rejects them one by one in the document, which is on view below in its entirety. He sums up his views like so:
Because the Court has absolutely no doubt that defense counsel can be ready to proceed to trial on January 20, the motion fails. This case has been pending for an extended period of time -- two and a half years to be exact -- and defense counsel have dedicated such extensive resources and manpower to the case to be able to provide the defendant not only effective assistance, but outstanding assistance, at the January 20 trial. Simply put, it is time for this case to proceed to trial.
Samour adds:
Under all of the circumstances present, denial of the motion will neither prejudice the defendant nor hinder his right to a liiir trial or any of his other rights. But a postponement would deprive the prosecution of its right to a speedy trial, violate the Victims' Rights Act, interfere with the public's interest in the speedy and final disposition of this case, run counter to the interest of justice, and further erode the public's confidence in the justice system. Accordingly, the defendant's motion to continue is denied. The trial will proceed on January 20, 2015.
Here's Samour's order, followed by the latest version of the lengthy instructions he'll read to prospective jurors starting next month.

James Holmes Case: Order on Motion to Continue Trial

James Holmes Case: Judge's Introductory Remarks

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts