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Jury selection begins in movie theater massacre trial
02:14 - Source: CNN

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Opening statements on April 27 would be a month ahead of an earlier schedule

James Holmes, 27, faces 166 counts, including murder and attempted murder charges.

CNN  — 

Opening statements in the murder trial of movie theater massacre suspect James Holmes are scheduled for April 27, more than a month ahead of schedule, a Colorado court spokesman said.

Holmes, 27, is charged as the sole gunman who stormed a crowded movie theater at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 58 more in July 2012.

When the trial began in January, some 9,000 potential jurors were summoned, and jury selection was expected then to continue until May or June, when the trial would finally start.

The jury selection process, however, appears to be moving faster than expected, according to court spokesman Rob McCallum.

In January, Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. told the first pool of potential jurors that if chosen for the jury, they cannot read, watch or hear anything about the case. “This will require great effort on your part,” the judge said three times.

Holmes, a one-time neuroscience doctoral student, faces 166 counts, including murder and attempted murder charges.

The jury box in the James Holmes trial. It was initially thought Jury selection could last until May or June.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could face a death sentence.

Prosecutors have charged in court that Holmes “intended to kill them all,” referring to patrons in the crowded cinema watching the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Holmes colored his hair a comic-book red and told police he was “The Joker” upon arrest after the mass killing.

Holmes was heavily armed and “dressed head-to-toe in protective gear,” authorities said. He wore black contact lenses to conceal his eyes. His AR-15 jammed during the shooting, police said, and they arrested him in the parking lot.

The trial itself could last four months. If there’s a conviction, the death penalty phase could last another month, which means court proceedings could last until fall.

CNN’s Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.