James Holmes preliminary hearing next week

12:03 PM, Jan 2, 2013   |    comments
James Holmes (Getty Images)
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By Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Prosecutors next week will begin laying out their case against James Holmes, the University of Colorado graduate school dropout accused of fatally shooting 12 people this summer during a crowded midnight movie premiere in Aurora.

Holmes faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in connection with the July 20 shootings at The Dark Knight Rises premiere that also wounded 58 people.

During a short court hearing Wednesday morning, prosecutors and Holmes' defense attorneys said they are ready to proceed with a preliminary hearing on the evidence against Holmes. The hearing, scheduled to begin Monday, is expected to last a week.

At that hearing, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester will decide whether there's enough evidence to allow the case against Holmes to proceed.

The hearing will be the public's first opportunity to hear the prosecution's evidence -- photos, videos and witness testimony-- and how defense attorneys intended to counter it.

Holmes' attorneys say he is mentally ill, raising the possibility of an insanity defense. Holmes attended Wednesday's hearing but did not speak with anyone.

Court files in the case have largely been sealed following the shooting.

Holmes was taken into custody minutes after the shooting occurred.

Police say the former neuroscience graduate student also booby-trapped his nearby apartment with gasoline and explosives.

Prosecutors have not yet announced whether they will seek the death penalty. A decision on that is expected later this year.

Holmes was enrolled in a Ph.D. neuroscience program at the university. He allegedly began stockpiling firearms and ammunition while taking classes in the spring.

In June, he made threats to a professor and on June 10 filed withdrawal papers after failing a year-end exam, prosecutors said. The next day he saw his school psychiatrist, who tried to report him to a campus security committee, according to Holmes' lawyers.

Contributing: Associated Press, Gary Strauss


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