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Colorado theater massacre trial can be televised, judge rules

James Holmes
James E. Holmes in court in Centennial, Colo., in 2013.
(Andy Cross / Denver Post )

The trial of the man accused of shooting and killing 12 people and injuring dozens more in a packed Colorado movie theater can be televised on a closed-circuit feed, a state judge ruled Tuesday.

But strict regulations accompany the ruling.

District Judge Carlos Samour said James E. Holmes’ trial can be broadcast but only with a single, remote-control-operated camera already in use in the courtroom, according to court documents.

The camera will not be allowed to zoom in or out without the judge’s permission and will not show the jury.

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In addition, no newspaper photographers will be allowed to take photos during the trial, Samour ruled. Photos will have to be taken directly from the closed-circuit feed.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Holmes, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the rampage at an Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012, at the sold-out premiere of the Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In his ruling, Samour acknowledged the trial would draw “intense and widespread” publicity. But, he wrote, allowing a camera would not undermine the justice system or the people involved.

“There is no basis to believe that [expanded media coverage] … will lead to greater adverse effects than those caused by traditional media coverage in a trial,” Samour wrote.

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In addition, the judge ruled, audio from the trial will be transmitted only from the courtroom’s closed-circuit camera, which has its own microphone.

Media outlets had requested a staffed camera in the courtroom and a newspaper photographer.

Any violations of the rules will result in immediate termination of media access, Samour ruled.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin in December. 

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