Colo. massacre case tops $2.2M before trial starts
DENVER - Public spending to investigate and prosecute Colorado theater-shooting defendant James Holmes has surpassed $2.2 million, weeks before opening statements in his trial, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
- Public spending to investigate and prosecute Colorado theater-shooting defendant James Holmes has surpassed $2.2 million, weeks before opening statements in his trial, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
It wasn't immediately clear if that was an exorbitant figure for such a high-profile case. But the total does not include how much it has cost to defend Holmes, who is represented by the Office of the State Public Defender because he cannot afford private attorneys.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 on July 20, 2012. Jury selection began in January, and opening statements are set for April 27.
Holmes' lawyers acknowledge he was the gunman, but they say he was in the grips of a psychotic episode. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Officials in the Denver suburb of Aurora, where the massacre occurred, say they have spent more than $928,500 on the case. That includes more than $517,000 in overtime pay for police and other city employees.
John Schneebeck, business manager for the Aurora Police Department, said yesterday that the total includes other city departments, but he said a list of those departments and a breakdown of their share wasn't available.
More than $200,000 of the overtime was for police officers who responded to the theater and to Holmes' apartment, where explosives were found, he said. The U.S. Department of Justice reimbursed that expense, Schneebeck said.
Prosecutors previously said they had incurred more than $920,000 in costs, not including salaries, which would have been paid anyway. Court officials have said they have spent $435,000, mostly on courtroom security.
The $2.2 million figure highlights a debate over whether Holmes' public defenders should have to disclose their costs. A bill to require public defenders to reveal such costs failed recently in the Colorado Legislature.
Public defenders are rarely required to release those costs, according to the National Association of Public Defense. They cite attorney-client privilege and argue that disclosure would unfairly tip prosecutors about how much is being spent on expert witnesses and investigative services.
The office of Colorado Public Defender Doug Wilson denies open-records requests for almost any information, not just inquiries about specific cases, according to Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields and Republican state Rep. Polly Lawrence, who sponsored the failed disclosure bill.