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James Holmes’ trial: A look at key aspects as closings begin

FILE - In this April 27, 2015 file pool image taken from Colorado Judicial Department video, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, far left, sits at the defense table at the opening of his trial in Centennial, Colo. With closing arguments to take place on July 14, 2015, jurors in the Colorado theater shooting trial soon will retreat into the largest jury room in the courthouse to determine whether Holmes was legally insane at the time of the killing spree. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool, File)

Closing arguments are set for Tuesday in the long trial of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes. Here’s a look at top elements in the case:



About 420 people were watching a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012, in the Denver suburb of Aurora when Holmes opened fire, killing 12 people.

Fifty-eight others were wounded by gunfire, and 12 were injured in the scramble to escape. Holmes surrendered to police outside the theater.

His attorneys acknowledged he was the gunman, but they said he was in the grip of a psychotic episode.



Holmes is charged with 24 counts of murder and 140 counts of attempted murder — two counts for each person killed and two for each person injured. He’s also charged with possession of explosives.



The trial began with opening statements April 27. Over the next 11 weeks, jurors heard from more than 250 witnesses, viewed more than 24 hours of video and saw more than 1,500 photos, some of them disturbing images of the victims.

They also examined scores of pieces of evidence, including Holmes’ guns and ammunition. Holmes didn’t testify.



Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, which under Colorado law means he acknowledges committing the acts but believes he wasn’t responsible because he couldn’t tell right from wrong.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists testified he was legally sane; two defense psychiatrists told jurors he was legally insane.



Under Colorado law, the jurors will determine whether Holmes was sane or insane. If they find he is guilty, they will decide on the sentence — death or life in prison without parole.



If Holmes is convicted of murder, he could be sentenced to execution — which prosecutors want — or to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If he’s found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital. That means if he were some day declared to be sane, he could be released, although experts say that’s unlikely.



The judge seated 12 jurors, plus 12 alternates to replace any jurors who had to be dismissed for health or other reasons.

Five have been dismissed, either for seeing news reports about the case or, in the case of one juror, having a family member injured in an unrelated crime during the trial.

The jurors will not know if they are jurors or alternates until Tuesday. Counseling will be available to the jurors after they have reached a verdict and the trial is over.



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