Arraignment in Colorado Theater Shooting Postponed Until March

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The judge hearing the case against James E. Holmes, the gunman accused of killing 12 people and wounding dozens more at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July, agreed on Friday to postpone Mr. Holmes' arraignment for two months at the defense's request.

The judge, William B. Sylvester, of Arapahoe County District Court, had ruled late Thursday that there was enough evidence presented during a three-day preliminary hearing for Mr. Holmes to stand trial on 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges. But he agreed on Friday to postpone the arraignment until March 12, to give Mr. Holmes's defense lawyers more time to enter a plea.

Judge Sylvester said that while he empathized with the victims' desire to move forward, he decided it was appropriate to give the defense more time to prepare for the arraignment hearing, given the trove of evidence that needed to be reviewed. Prosecutors had objected to the delay, saying they were ready to move forward with the case immediately.

Victims of the attack and their family members, sitting in the courtroom gallery here, were visibly upset at the prospect of having to wait for Mr. Holmes to enter a plea. As the lawyers and the judge discussed the matter, several victims and family members stormed out of the courtroom.

As the court was adjourning, Steve Hernandez, whose 32-year-old daughter, Rebecca Wingo, was shot and killed in the theater, shouted: "Rot in hell, Holmes!"

The outburst prompted the judge to reconvene the court and gently admonish Mr. Hernandez.

"I'm terribly sorry for your loss. And I can only begin to imagine the emotions that are raging," the judge said.

Mr. Hernandez, who was ringed by a group of sheriff's deputies and brought to the front of the courtroom, apologized.

"I meant no disrespect to the court, your honor," he said.

The hearing has been under heavy security all week, with deputies using hand-held metal detectors to sweep each person entering the courtroom. And emotions have run high as prosecutors laid out their case against Mr. Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver.

Earlier in the week, an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified that Mr. Holmes told investigators he planned to blow up his apartment to create a diversion the night of the shooting.

Prosecutors also presented haunting photos Mr. Holmes took of himself with a cellphone in the hours leading up to the shooting. One showed him grinning with the muzzle of a Glock pistol nearby. In another Mr. Holmes, wearing jet-black contact lenses and donning a cap, jutted his tongue out at the camera.

Mr. Holmes's defense lawyers did not call any witnesses during this week's hearing and have indicated they plan to argue he is not guilty by reason of insanity.

On Friday, district attorney George Brauchler reminded news media that despite Judge Sylvester's ruling that Mr. Holmes would stand trial, Mr. Holmes was still innocent until proven guilty

"I want to protect the interests of all involved in this case," he said.

Dan Frosch reported from Centennial, Colo., and Emma G. Fitzsimmons from New York.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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