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9 women, 3 men ready to deliberate in trial of James Holmes for Aurora movie theater shooting

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jul 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 10:54:59-04

Starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, a jury consisting of nine women and three men will gather at Arapahoe County Court to begin deliberations in the movie theater shooting trial.

Two of the jurors have connections to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School, including one who survived that incident and another who is related to a survivor. Other notable members of the panel include an attorney, a former victim's advocate and a physicist who specializes in explosives and competes in marksmanship.

Learn more about the jurors with our interactive jury box

James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the 165 counts related to the mass shooting that killed 12 people and injured 70 others on July 20, 2012. Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty in the case, but first they need the jury to deliver a guilty verdict in this phase of the trial.

The 12 deliberating jurors will have the task of deciding if the prosecution, under the leadership of District Attorney George Brauchler, met their burden of proof in the case. Because of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea, that means the jury needs to find the prosecution proved the gunman was sane, as defined by Colorado law.

"He leaves nothing to chance," Brauchler said during his closing argument Tuesday. "He's planned for all the contingencies and all of that planning goes to (his) intent."

Read more of DA Brauchler's closing arguments

There is no burden of proof for the defense and their not guilty by reason of insanity plea. Public defenders led by Dan King needed only to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt and pointed repeatedly to the gunman's diagnosed mental illness as the cause of the shooting.

"When he walked into that theater, the evidence is clear that he could not control his thoughts," King said during his closing argument. "The psychotic process had obscured his ability to think about things the way that we do."

Read more about King's closing arguments for the defense

Deliberations have no set time limit, but attorney Dan Recht speculated that it could take several days for the jury to make their decision. They'll have Friday off this week, as a pre-planned part of the trial's schedule, and that means their third potential day for deliberations would be on the 20th, the third anniversary of the shooting itself.

While those 12 jurors deliberate, seven other alternate jurors who sat through the whole case will be asked to wait in a room elsewhere in the courthouse complex. They'll be kept nearby, but out of contact, in case there is a problem that removes one of the jurors from the deliberating group.

The alternates will not be allowed to deliberate or even discuss the case while they wait. 

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