James Holmes Trial Set To Begin In Colorado, 3 Years After Cinema Shooting

A courtroom sketch shows accused murderer James Holmes sitting with Arapahoe County Public Defender Tamara Brady at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colo., in January. His trial will begin with opening statements Monday. (EPA /LANDOV)
A courtroom sketch shows accused murderer James Holmes sitting with Arapahoe County Public Defender Tamara Brady at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colo., in January. His trial will begin with opening statements Monday. (EPA /LANDOV)

More than 1,000 days after James Holmes opened fire on an audience at a midnight movie in Aurora, Colo., his trial will begin in earnest Monday. His defense team admits Homes killed 12 people and injured 70 more; the trial is expected to turn on questions about Holmes' sanity – and whether he should be executed.

Opening statements in the trial will be delivered in Arapahoe County District Court Monday, nearly three years after the attack. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity – and many of the trial's delays are due to the extensive psychological tests he has undergone.

The trial is expected to last for months, perhaps through the summer.

From Denver, Ben Markus reports for Colorado Public Radio:

"Insanity defenses are rarely successful. But former prosecutor Bob Grant says that as the heinousness of what happened is laid out, jurors will struggle with a nagging thought.

" 'Nobody who isn't nuts would do this!' Grant says. 'So that's a hurdle the prosecution has to overcome.' "

Holmes targeted the premiere of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, in an attack that immediately became notorious. But as The Denver Post notes, there's much about the case that hasn't been publicly revealed.

The newspaper reports:

"Key evidence was kept sealed. Investigators remained mum.

"To the public outside, the most basic understanding of the attack remained elusive. Calculated killings or acts of insanity? Preventable tragedy or unforeseeable horror? A man who deserves treatment or execution?"

The question of closure is also an elusive one. As Markus of CPB notes, "The trial is expected to end in early September, but if Holmes is sentenced to the death penalty, families can expect decades of appeals."

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