Colorado gunman James Holmes is scheduled for a crucial court hearing on Monday, Jan. 7, when prosecutors will outline their case against him. Holmes, 25, is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 70 during the midnight showing on July 20 of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."
Scheduled to run through the week, the sessions will ultimately determine whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to put Holmes on trial. While the defense has the right to bypass this part of the proceeding, legal experts, as cited by the Associated Press, say defense lawyers sometimes go ahead with the hearing to get an idea of how strong the prosecution's case is.
Charged with 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder, Holmes has yet to enter a plea. His lawyers have suggested that he suffers from mental illness.
Next week's hearing will give the public its first official look at much of the evidence against Holmes.
Shortly after Holmes was arrested, a judge imposed a gag order barring attorneys and investigators from speaking publicly about the case, with many of the key documents being sealed off.
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District Judge William Sylvester, as cited by the New York Times, acknowledged on Wednesday that the logistics of presenting and ruling on such massive amounts of evidence will prove challenging.
The case will be heard in the largest courtroom available, with two other rooms outfitted with monitors carrying a live stream of testimony for overflow crowds, including one for victims and their families.
Evidence expected to be presented at the hearing includes frantic 911 calls from moviegoers and videos shot inside Theater 9, where the incident occurred, as well as at least one adjoining theater where shots penetrated through the walls, the New York Times reported.
In addition, there were at least 70 people injured during the shooting in Aurora who could be called as witnesses.
Holmes, a former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado, Denver, was arrested without resistance outside the Century 16 cinema complex just minutes after he allegedly opened fire in a packed theater showing a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
In related developments, the theater, closed since the shooting, is set to reopen later this month. Relatives of nine people killed in the shooting were apparently offended by invitations sent to them, which requested they be in attendance for the reopening.
According to CNN, an email sent to the families said Cinemark USA Inc. would hold a "special evening of remembrance" for invited guests the prior evening.
The families reportedly drafted a response letter to the theater chain's management.
"During the holiday we didn't think anyone or anything could make our grief worse but you, Cinemark, have managed to do just that," the letter, obtained by CNN, started off.
"Our family members will never be on this earth with us again and a movie ticket and some token words from people who didn't care enough to reach out to us, nor respond when we reached out to them to talk, is appalling," the letter reads.
The group said it will urge others to boycott "the killing field of our children."
The invitation, obtained by CNN, sent through the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, said a movie would follow a private ceremony at the remodeled theater complex.