James E. Holmes faces multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted… (Getty Images )
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The first glimpse of the vast amounts of evidence in the case against James E. Holmes, suspected in the July 20 Aurora movie theater massacre, will be made public next week as a long-awaited preliminary hearing is set to get underway.
After more than five months of wrangling, the prosecution and defense on Wednesday said they were ready to proceed on Monday to the next step in the case against Holmes, accused in the mass shooting that killed 12 and injured at least 70.
The preliminary hearing, which is expected to last most of next week and draw hundreds of spectators, witnesses, victims and members of the media, will determine if there is enough evidence against Holmes to try him on 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
He has not yet entered a plea and is being held without bond in isolation.
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.”
District Judge William Sylvester 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.
Expected to be presented next week are previously sealed details from the investigation, including frantic 911 calls from moviegoers and videos shot inside Theater 9, where the shooting took place, as well as at least one adjoining theater where shots penetrated through the walls.
The prosecution indicated there were at least 70 injured who could be called as witnesses. Initially the number of wounded was thought to be 58. But over the last few months more names have been added and new charges against Holmes were filed.
Holmes, who turned 25 last month, was in the courtroom on Wednesday, heavily shackled and silent. The neon orange curls that he wore just after his arrest have been replaced with trimmed brown hair and a full brown beard.
The defense has indicated Holmes is mentally ill and is widely expected to pursue an insanity defense.
In related developments, the theater, closed since the shooting, is set to reopen later this month. An invitation to families members of those killed was offered by the theater’s ownership for “a special evening of remembrance” on Jan. 17 followed by the showing of a movie.
Several of the family members have called the invitation offensive.
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