James Holmes trial set to start nearly 3 years after theater massacre

Defense Attorney Daniel King, right, and Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes review advisement documents in court in Centennial, Colo., on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Andy Cross, Pool)

COLORADO (NBC News) — Nearly three years after James Holmes killed a dozen people and injured 70 others during a horrifying attack at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., jurors will hear opening statements in the 27-year-old’s murder trial. Holmes will be tried on murder charges in the deaths of 12 people, attempted murder charges involving 70 other victims and a charge of possession of explosive or incendiary devices in a Colorado courtroom starting Monday, according to court documents. He is technically charged with 164 murder and attempted murder counts — two for each person he killed or tried to kill.

Opening statements have been a long time coming as the prosecution and defense teams sifted through evidence and a jury pool of 9,000 people. A jury of 11 women and one man has been seated.

Holmes, a former University of Colorado graduate student, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are expected to argue that Holmes planned the attack for weeks and wanted to harm more people by rigging his apartment to explode the moment someone walked in.

“Obviously, this defendant is not normal. Obviously, he has mental health issues. The question is: Does it rise to the level of insanity under Colorado law? Could he tell right from wrong?” said Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver.

If Holmes is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he will be sentenced indefinitely to a state mental hospital. If he is found guilty, the jury will then decide on a sentence — death or life in prison with out the possibility of parole.

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