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Publicity Could Make It Hard For Holmes To Get Fair Trial In Colorado

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James Holmes (credit: CBS)

James Holmes (credit: CBS)

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AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Many people have begun wondering how the legal case for James Eagan Holmes will unfold. The answer to that question may be months away.

One defense attorney told CBS4 there will be a jury pool of up 1,000, but Monday morning the first step will be a simple one — to advise Holmes he is the focus of an investigation.

Holmes is described as quiet but brilliant. He’s right now the most recognizable face attached to a mass murder.

“We have the evidence of a deliberative process to commit this assault,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

For days the nation and world has hearing how police say Holmes shot 70 people, killing 12, which begs the question — given the publicity can he get a fair trial in Colorado?

“I think that it is going to be very difficult for any forum or venue where he is going to have a completely objective jury panel,” criminal defense attorney Dan Foster said.

Foster walked CBS4’s Howard Nathan through the coming trial, although he’s not representing Holmes. He says a mental competency evaluation of Holmes will happen.

“That could take weeks if not months. I think at this particular time the attorneys are getting to know this individual to make a determination,” Foster said.

Foster believes that outgoing district attorney Carol Chambers will seek the death penalty, but her successor next year may accept a guilty plea of life with no parole.

“Could you imagine the media circus that will come down here? Is that going to be the best thing for the victims and their families?” Foster said.

If the case goes to trial, Foster predicts the largest jury pool in Colorado history.

“It could take weeks, if not months to impanel a jury,” he said.

If Holmes is convicted and sentenced to die, get ready for the appeals process.

“There are several people who’ve been on death row for over a decade who were convicted of heinous acts of cruelty who are still sitting there a decade after the incident.”

In other words, everybody is going to be seeing a lot more of Holmes.

“There is a passion on our part to ultimately do justice for the victims and the way you do that is you present this evidence in court,” Oates said.

There will be a camera in the courtroom Monday morning. Foster believes more camera exposure will further poison the jury pool.

Foster predicts the actual trial will begin in the spring of next year.

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