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DENVER — One of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history will be replayed in a Colorado courtroom — but only after an unprecedented jury pool of 9,000 people is winnowed to a handful to decide whether James Holmes was insane when he opened fire in a suburban movie theater.

Holmes is one of the few suspects to survive such an attack — many are killed by police or commit suicide. His survival has sparked an emotionally charged debate in which his parents have begged for a plea deal that would save his life, while many survivors and family members of victims have demanded that he stand trial and face the death penalty if convicted.

Jury selection begins Tuesday, and the trial could run until October. It could provide a look into the mind of Holmes, whose attorneys acknowledge he was the gunman in the July 20, 2012, attack but say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode at the time.

"The public is going to get an insight into the mind of a killer who says he doesn't know right from wrong," said Alan Tuerkheimer, a Chicago-based jury consultant. "It is really rare. It just doesn't usually come to this."

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  • mitchstoner
    January 19, 2015 at 9:24 p.m.

    Is he nuts? Probably. But I also think he's trying hard to look crazier than he may actually be.

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