- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - The judge overseeing the Colorado theater shooting case says jury selection is going so efficiently that the first phase will be cut short by several days.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. had planned to finish giving potential jurors lengthy, written questionnaires by Feb. 13. But he said Monday he will close that phase on Feb. 9 and begin the next one, which includes individual questioning of potential jurors, on Feb. 11.

“I like the fact that we are ahead of the game,” Samour said.

Those who make the second round will be asked in-depth questions about the death penalty, mental illness and other matters. Samour said he hopes 100 to 120 suitable jurors will remain after individual questioning. The final 24 - 12 jurors and 12 alternates - will be chosen from that pool during group questioning.

The jury will hear the case against James Holmes, who is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 others in the July 20, 2012, attack at a Denver-area movie theater.

Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

An unprecedented 9,000 people were initially sent summonses, though that number fell to 7,000 because many were undeliverable and for other reasons.

Jury selection began Jan. 20 and is expected to last until May or June.

Samour released another 139 people Monday, bringing the total number of people dismissed to more than 1,000.

On Monday, Holmes sat expressionless at the defense table taking notes.

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