- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Defense lawyers acknowledge that James Holmes opened fire on an Aurora movie theater auditorium on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70. Yet jury selection for his trial doesn’t begin until next month.

Q: What’s taking so long?

A: Jan. 20 is Holmes’ fifth trial date. The first, in August 2013, was canceled after prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty, raising numerous issues that had to be resolved before trial. The second, in February, was scratched after prosecutors asked for a second sanity evaluation. The third was Oct. 14, which the judge postponed to Dec. 8 after the doctor conducting the second evaluation requested an extension. That was postponed so Holmes’ attorneys could have more time to study the evaluation.

Q: Why is sanity an issue?

A: The question isn’t whether Holmes pulled the trigger. His lawyers have said as much. It’s whether he was sane enough at the time of the crime to be punished for it.

Q: What did the first sanity evaluation find?

A: We don’t know because it’s sealed. But prosecutors objected to it, arguing the psychiatrist was biased. The judge ordered another evaluation.

Q: What about the second evaluation?

A: That’s sealed too. The fight over the two evaluations ate up nearly a year of court time.

Q: Did the sides ever try to reach a plea deal?

A: The defense says the prosecution rejected an offer for Holmes to plead guilty and avoid the death penalty. Prosecutors say there was never a concrete deal on the table.

Q: Are there other reasons it’s taken so long?

A: Holmes’ attorneys have fought the prosecution on every small detail - typical when defending someone facing death. In addition, the case is complicated due to the scale of the crime and number of victims.

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