James Holmes, the defendant in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater massacre, has been scheduled to stand trial Oct. 14, a judge ruled Thursday.
The date, however, may be delayed by pretrial actions over Holmes’ psychiatric evaluations, according to the Denver Post. Defense attorney Tamara Brady said the team planned to ask the judge to reconsider his order that Holmes undergo a second psychiatric exam.
As currently scheduled, the Oct. 14 trial would begin more than two years after the July 2012 shooting at a Cinemark movie theater during a packed midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Holmes, 26, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty and want Holmes to undergo another psychiatric evaluation.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour deemed the first evaluation, conducted last summer at a state hospital, inadequate. Holmes’ attorneys may appeal his decision, the Denver Post reported.
Attorneys don’t dispute that Holmes committed the shootings, but his plea makes psychiatric evaluations -- which assess whether he was insane at the time of the shootings -- the most important pieces of evidence.
If doctors who evaluated him conclude he was insane, it would be much more difficult for prosecutors to persuade a jury to convict him of murder and sentence him to death.
If jurors agreed he was insane, he would be committed indefinitely to the state hospital. He could be released eventually if doctors concluded his sanity had been restored, but that is considered unlikely.
Colorado law defines insanity as the inability to tell right from wrong because of a mental disease or defect. An evaluation by the state mental hospital is mandatory for anyone who pleads insanity.
As many as 6,000 juror summonses could be sent out when the court begins assembling a jury for what would undoubtedly be one of the highest-profile criminal trials in Colorado’s history.
Prosecutor Rich Orman said theater victims were disappointed with the slow pace of the proceedings.
“I think, to a person, they would have preferred the trial to start a long time ago,” said Orman, according to the Denver Post.
Samour replied that he was sympathetic but that the proceedings had to be handled with care.