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Jury Selection To Start In Aurora, Colo., Mass Shooting Trial

A view of the jury box, right, inside Courtroom 201, where jury selection in the trial of Aurora movie theater shootings defendant James Holmes is to begin Tuesday at the Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo.
Brennan Linsley

Jury selection starts today in the trial of James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting in July 2012.

Holmes' legal team has already admitted that he was the shooter, but he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury will have to confront the question of whether Holmes was sane when he opened fire inside the movie theater. The mass shooting was one of the worst in U.S. history.

"I don't know if there's any closure for us because it is an open wound that I live with every day," Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was among 12 people killed in 2012, tells Colorado Public Radio.

Colorado Public Radio reports, "Finding a juror who isn't affected by the events is expected to be a challenge."

The jury pool of 9,000 is one of the largest ever – three times the number for the Boston Marathon bombing trial.

The issues involved – the death penalty and an insanity plea – make this one of the most complex trials in Colorado history.

The Associated Press has a rundown of what will happen next:

"The first step begins on Tuesday, when 9,000 prospective jurors ... begin arriving at the courthouse in Centennial, in suburban Denver.

"Whittling those numbers to the 12 jurors and 12 alternates is expected to take months. The trial could last until October.

"In the 2-1/2 years since the shooting, the case has sparked an emotionally charged debate, with his parents begging for a plea deal that would save his life while many survivors and family members of victims have demanded that he be put to death."

If they find Homes guilty, jurors must decide whether to recommend the death penalty. If found not guilty, Holmes would be committed to the state mental hospital indefinitely.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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