Aurora Shooting Suspect Faces Preliminary Court Hearing
By Joel Rosenblatt & Jeff Kass – Jan 7, 2013 12:00 AM ET
James Holmes, a former neuroscience student charged with 166 criminal counts after a July shooting spree at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, that killed 12 people, faces a court hearing over whether his case should go to trial.
State prosecutors and public defenders are scheduled to present opening statements and call witnesses at a weeklong preliminary hearing starting today in Colorado state court in Centennial, about 14 miles (23 kilometers) south of Denver. At the conclusion of the hearing, Arapahoe County District Court Judge William Sylvester will determine whether there’s enough evidence against Holmes to proceed to trial.
“This preliminary hearing may influence the national and Colorado debate on gun control and capital punishment,” said Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor now in private practice as a criminal defense attorney.
Holmes, who attended the University of Colorado-Denver, allegedly opened fire on the theater audience at a July 20 midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” In addition to charges of first-degree murder, which can carry the death penalty in Colorado, he faces more than 100 counts of attempted murder.
Today’s hearing comes less than one month after the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre that left 28 dead, including the gunman, his mother and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That mass shooting was the last in 2012, following the Aurora attack that killed 12 and wounded at least 58, and another at a Wisconsin Sikh temple that left six dead.
Sylvester ruled that during the hearing, lawyers for Holmes can call two witnesses who cooperated with law enforcement officials but initially declined to be interviewed by investigators for the defendant, according to a Jan. 2 court filing. At the request of prosecutors, the “lay witnesses” weren’t identified in the filing.
Lawyers for Holmes are seeking to collect evidence to “rebut, impeach, contradict, or clarify testimony from government witnesses, particularly on the issue of the defendant’s mental state,” according to the filing.
The case is People v. Holmes, 12-cr-01522, 18th Judicial District Court, Colorado (Centennial).
To contact the reporters on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jeff Kass in Colorado District Court in Centennial at email@example.com.
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