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Trial of Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting suspect delayed again

The aftermath of the mass shooting on July 20, 2012. (Karl Gehring/Denver Post via AP)

The trial of James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more in a shooting at a Colorado movie theater in 2012, has been delayed again.

Holmes’s trial was supposed to begin with jury selection in October, but a judge on Wednesday delayed the trial without setting a new date. The order, issued by District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr., was issued in response to a state mental health facility saying that it will need more time to conduct a sanity evaluation of Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty due to insanity.

Holmes has been charged with murder, attempted murder, using a deadly weapon for a violent crime and possessing explosive devices for a violent spree that unfolded in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012. Witnesses said that the gunman calmly walked through the theater, firing at adults and children in one of the worst shooting attacks in U.S. history.

The Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo said this week that a second mental-health evaluation of Holmes could not be completed by the deadline, writing in a letter that the evaluation wouldn’t be ready until Oct. 15, the day after jury selection was scheduled to begin.

Conducting this new evaluation will require reviewing “an even more voluminous amount of documentation than the first evaluation” as well as interviews and other work needed before writing the report, Birgit M. Fisher, interim superintendent of the institute, wrote in a letter.

A second sanity evaluation is needed because prosecutors criticized the first one, prompting the judge to order a second evaluation. Meanwhile, the trial had already been delayed twice, first because prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty and then because prosecutors asked for the second sanity evaluation.

In the order announcing the delay, Samour wrote that while the victims would presumably oppose postponing the trial, it is necessary because “it is important that the second examination is adequate and complete.”

Samour said that a new trial date would be set on July 22.

Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.

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