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DA Pushes To Let Theater Shooting Victims At Trial

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James Holmes in court in June 2013 (credit: CBS)

James Holmes in court in June 2013 (credit: CBS)

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – Prosecutors in the Colorado theater shooting case say they have received “a voluminous number” of calls from victims who are concerned they won’t be able to attend the suspect’s hearings or trial.

A judge has yet to rule on prosecutors’ request to exempt victims from an order that bars people who might testify at James Holmes’ trial from being in the courtroom. The judge previously exempted Holmes’ parents at the request of Holmes’ attorneys.

Prosecutors said in court documents filed Wednesday that a gag order has kept them from fully discussing the case with victims, and victims’ first opportunity to hear certain details may be at future hearings. They said that under Colorado law, the victims have the right to be present at critical stages of the case, including the trial and sentencing hearing. Victims told prosecutors they want to exercise their rights to attend hearings, prosecutors said.

Holmes’ attorneys have said keeping potential witnesses out of courtroom will prevent them from tailoring their testimony to that of other witnesses.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to more than 160 counts. He is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others on July 20 at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

In their court filing Wednesday, prosecutors said there are far more victims than the 12 killed and 70 injured. They said hundreds of other people in the theater also should be exempt from orders that they stay out of the courtroom.

Prosecutors said they could have filed two counts of attempted murder for each person in Theaters 8 and 9 of the Century 16 on July 20 but didn’t, because that would have meant Holmes would have faced more than 1,500 criminal counts.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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