Judge denies three requests to remove 'death penalty' in Aurora movie theater shooting case

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. - The judge overseeing the case of Aurora movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes issued orders Wednesday denying three requests to remove the death penalty from the prosecution.

In Motion D-149, Holmes' attorneys asked the judge to "declare Colorado's death penalty statutory scheme unconstitutional" based on research by social scientists working with the Capital Jury Project.

The judge ruled, "The defendant's motion lacks merit. Accordingly, it is denied without a hearing."

In Motion D-150, the defendant asks the court 'to prevent death qualification of the jury."

In death penalty cases, jurors are questioned about their beliefs on the death penalty. Prospective jurors must "be able and willing to consider both legal penalties (i.e., death or life in prison without the possibility of parole) as appropriate forms of punishment or they are not eligible for service, according to TheJuryExpert.com.

The judge concluded, "The motion is meritless. Accordingly, it is denied without a hearing."

In Motion D-155, the defendant once again asked that the death penalty to be removed as a possible punishment in this case, saying it conflicts with the 8th Amendment of the Colorado constitution.

Again, the judge ruled "The motion is denied with a hearing."

-- Other court actions

Holmes' attorneys also filed notice that they plan to appeal the order requiring a second psychiatric evaluation.

Because of the work that is going into that appeal, the judge agreed to postpone a motions hearing regarding jury selection that was scheduled for May 5 and 6.

Holmes' attorneys requested that potential jurors be recorded on video during jury selection. However, the judge denied the request saying jury selection proceedings will be recorded stenographically, which is consistent with the practices in other Colorado jurisdictions.

James Holmes is accused of opening fire inside a crowded theater during a midnight premiere on July 20, 2012. Twelve people were killed and 70 others were injured.

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