News organizations ask judge to allow cameras in courtroom for Colorado theater shooting trial

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CENTENNIAL, Colorado — Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the Colorado theater shootings case urged the judge on Monday to bar cameras from the courtroom during the trial, saying witnesses could be harassed and threatened because of the coverage.

They also argued that witnesses' images could be exploited on the Internet forever.

Attorneys for news organizations responded that no evidence shows that courtroom cameras would make the public scrutiny of witnesses any more intense than it will be anyway because of strong interest in the case.

Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said he would rule next week.

James Holmes is scheduled to go on trial in December on charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack at a Denver-area theater.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple charges of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes appeared in court Monday wearing glasses with rust-colored frames and oval lenses. He had never before worn glasses in court.

Media organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked to place one video camera and a still photographer in the courtroom during the trial. They cited broad interest in the crime itself and in the intertwined issues of mental health, gun control and mass killings.

They also argued that there had been no mistrials or problems in previous Colorado trials in which cameras were present.

Defense attorney Kristen Nelson countered that this would be the first time cameras would be present in a Colorado death penalty trial, and that the risk of making witnesses wary about testifying was too great.

"It's only going to make matters worse," she said.

Samour said he worries that witnesses might be underestimating how much media attention they will face even if he does not allow courtroom cameras.

"Either way, there's going to be a ton of coverage," he said.


Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP

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