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Judge delays trial in Colorado movie theater massacre case

By Daniel Wallis

DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado judge on Wednesday delayed the planned trial in October of accused movie theater gunman James Holmes to allow more time to conduct a second sanity review.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in 2012.

Jury selection in the trial had been due to start on Oct. 14, but a state mental hospital said it would not be able to complete a second test of Holmes' sanity in time.

"The Court has little choice but to grant the examiner's request," Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour said in an order.

"(T)his is a complicated and voluminous case, and it is important that the second examination is adequate and complete."

He said a new trial date would be set at a July 22 hearing.

Holmes, 26, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for the shooting rampage, which took place during a midnight screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" at a suburban Denver theater.

His lawyers have acknowledged that the former neuroscience doctoral candidate was the lone shooter but say the California native suffers from a chronic mental illness.

Holmes underwent an initial court-ordered psychiatric evaluation last year, but the findings from that have not been made public.

Prosecutors challenged the results as "incomplete and inadequate," and in February they won a court order from Samour calling for a rare second evaluation.

In a letter to the court made public on Tuesday, the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo said a second sanity exam would review more documentation than the first, as well as conduct interviews and obtain psychological testing.

The institute also said its examiner planned to videotape the test. It said prosecutors had no problem with that, but that Holmes' lawyers did object.

In his order, Samour said he had not received a request from either side in relation to video recording the test, so the examiner could proceed as he deemed fit.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Susan Heavey and Jim Loney)

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