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Court date set for Colorado theater shooting suspect's biggest hearing yet

A judge set a preliminary hearing for accused Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes for next Monday, The Denver Post reported Wednesday, the most crucial court hearing that the Aurora mass shooting suspect has faced yet.

The hearing, which is to begin at 9 a.m., is expected to last the entire week, the newspaper reported. Hundreds of people, including victims, their family members, and members of the public are expected to come.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the Colorado theater shooting headed back to court after State District Judge William B. Sylvester told both sides to appear before him to ensure everything is ready for next week's preliminary hearing, when prosecutors will outline their case against Holmes.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Sylvester will decide if the evidence is sufficient to put Holmes on trial.

AP

This undated photo provided Sept. 20, 2012 by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office shows Colorado movie-theater shooting suspect James Holmes.

Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 58 on July 20 in a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Prosecutors say he opened fire during a midnight showing of the Batman movie "The Dark Night Rises."

The preliminary hearing will give the public its first officially sanctioned look at much of the evidence against Holmes.

According to The Denver Post, there will be at least two overflow rooms with audio and video feeds for the hundreds of people expected to attend.

Holmes faces multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder and hasn't yet entered a plea. His lawyers have said he suffers from mental illness.

Sylvester imposed a gag order shortly after Holmes' arrest barring attorneys and investigators from speaking publicly about the case, and many documents have been sealed.

The University of Colorado, where Holmes was a graduate student, has also been tight-lipped about the case.

At prosecutors' request, Sylvester barred the university from releasing records requested by numerous media organizations. Prosecutors argued that the information could jeopardize Holmes' right to a fair trial. Sylvester initially agreed, but amended his order last month to allow the release after media organizations objected in court.

Holmes was enrolled in a Ph.D. neuroscience program at the university. He allegedly began stockpiling firearms and ammunition while taking classes in the spring.

In June, he made threats to a professor and on June 10 filed withdrawal papers after failing a year-end exam, prosecutors said. The next day he saw his school psychiatrist who tried to report him to a campus security committee, according to Holmes' lawyers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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