Centennial, Colorado (dpa) – Jury selection was to begin Tuesday for the trial of accused mass murderer James Eagan Holmes, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity when he shot 70 people, killing 12, in a Colorado cinema in 2012.
The first from of a pool of 9,000 potential jurors will arrive at Arapahoe County District Court at the start of a selection process that could take as long as four to five months.
The jury pool is one of the largest in US history, reflecting the dimensions of a case that has commanded international media attention since Holmes surrendered to police on July 20, 2012.
The facts of the case are largely undisputed: Holmes, now 27, left the midnight showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises and returned wearing a gas mask and body armour, carrying an automatic rifle, a shotgun and a handgun.
He set off tear gas canisters and fired dozens of rounds into the audience. Ten people died in the theatre, and two later in hospital. Seventy were wounded, 58 by gunshots.
Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons and explosives violations. Prosecutors have asked for the death penalty.