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If Moved, Aurora Theater Shooting Case Has To Remain In Colorado

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

CENTENIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – On Monday attorneys for accused Aurora theater shooting gunman James Holmes asked the judge to move his trial out of Arapahoe County.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His trial is set to begin in October at the Arapahoe County Courthouse in Centennial, not far from where the shootings happened. Even though it’s still months away, the defense has already asked the judge to move the trial to another county.

There’s been no shortage of pretrial publicity for the Aurora theater shooting case. The defense says it’s that notoriety that will not give their client a fair trial in Arapahoe County.

“This is one of those cases, like the Oklahoma City bombing, where the publicity is international,” CBS4 legal analyst Karen Steinhauser said.

The defense filed a motion Monday asking the judge to move the trial. Steinhauser says it may be too early to consider and it will be hard to find another county in the state where people aren’t already prejudiced.

“We’re looking for people who haven’t already made up their mind with regard to the guilt or innocence, sanity or insanity, so that regardless of what they hear in the courtroom, they’re going to go with what they’ve already decided,” Steinhauser said.

Steinhauser said the judge may wait to decide. A 1997 Denver hate crime case in which a West African immigrant was murdered at a bus stop wasn’t moved to Pueblo County until jury selection had already begun. In this case, Steinhauser said the judge wants to make the best decision.

“The judge’s concern has to be, ‘If I make a mistake on this issue, are we going to end up with a second trial?’ And that would be one of the worst things that could happen.”

Because it’s a local case, and not federal, the venue would still have to be somewhere in the state of Colorado if the judge grants the request.

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