- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - Jury selection has moved more quickly than expected in the Colorado theater shooting case and the trial could begin as soon as April, a judge said Thursday.

During direct questioning of potential jurors, Judge Carlos Samour said the pool of candidates for further screening was growing more quickly than he had anticipated.

After six days of direct questioning, the judge said he had 27 potential jurors for group questioning. Samour has said he wants at least 100 people for that part of the process.

He initially expected the entire selection process to last four months.

Samour asked one potential juror Thursday if a trial that starts in late April or early May would pose a hardship. He replied it would not.

James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2012, attack at a Denver-area theater that killed 12 people and wounded 70 others.

His lawyers acknowledge he was the gunman but say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode.

Samour noted Thursday that one jury candidate had made references on a questionnaire about the length of time the case has already taken.

“Given the magnitude of this case it hasn’t taken that long,” the judge said. “We take our time in these cases given what’s at stake.”

The prospective juror was among three people released after saying they could not impose the death penalty because of religious beliefs.

Samour also dismissed a woman who said she was a nurse who had worked alongside paramedics and other nurses who had treated theater shooting victims. She also said she had discussed Holmes’ mental state with her ex-husband, who works in the mental health field. She said she couldn’t set aside her feeling that Holmes is guilty.

Holmes, wearing a short-sleeve, button-down blue shirt, wrote in a notebook as potential jurors were questioned.

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Information from: The Aurora Sentinel, https://www.aurorasentinel.com/

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