Some 9,000 prospective jurors — the largest jury pool in US history — began arriving for the Batman cinema shooting trial.
Whittling those numbers down to the 12 jurors and 12 reserves is expected to take months, and the trial at the court in Centennial, in Denver, Colorado, could last until October.
At first glance, the case seems simple, as James Holmes has confessed to the attack that left 12 dead and 70 injured. But jurors must decide whether he was insane when he opened fire on movie-goers in July 2012.
Experts say it is rare to have a mass shooter appear in court to face charges — many are either killed by police or commit suicide.
Alan Tuerkheimer, a jury consultant, said: “The public is going to get an insight into the mind of a killer who says he doesn’t know right from wrong. It is really rare.”
In the two-and-a-half years since the shooting, the case has sparked an emotionally charged debate, with Holmes’s 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.
Holmes, 27, was arrested as he stripped off his combat gear in the car park of the cinema in Aurora after he opened fire at the midnight showing of a Batman movie. He later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Under Colorado law, defendants are not legally liable for their acts if their minds are so “diseased” that they cannot distinguish right from wrong.
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