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Accused Colorado theater shooter's trial date set for fall

By Shawn Nottingham, CNN
updated 1:03 PM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Twelve people were killed and dozens more injured in a July 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
Twelve people were killed and dozens more injured in a July 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
  • A Colorado judge sets an October 14 trial date for James Holmes
  • Holmes faces 166 charges tied to a mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater
  • Authorities have claimed that he plotted out the attack well in advance
  • The defense has centered around Holmes' mental state

(CNN) -- The start of the multiple murder trial of James Holmes -- the man accused of shooting dead 12 people inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater -- has been set for October 14, a courts spokesman said.

Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour set the trial date for Holmes, according to Colorado state courts spokesman Rob McCallum.

Earlier this month, the same judge ordered an additional, independent sanity examination for Holmes that must be filed by July 14.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Holmes, who is accused of opening fire in a packed movie theater during a July 2012 midnight showing of the latest Batman installment, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Parents not surprised by Holmes' plea

Authorities have said Holmes was dressed head to toe in protective gear.

He allegedly threw tear-gas canisters in the theater and then opened fire on the patrons, according to witnesses. Police say he used several weapons, including an AR-15 rifle, before fleeing the theater.

Outside the theater, the shooter was apprehended, identifying himself to police as "The Joker," one of Batman's archenemies.

He faces 166 charges tied to the rampage. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors have argued that Holmes began plotting the attack while enrolled as a neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus, a program he left a month before the mass shooting.

The defense, meanwhile, appears to be focused not so much on what Holmes allegedly did that night but his mental state then and earlier.

CNN's Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

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