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Defense wants Colorado theater model barred from accused gunman’s trial

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - An FBI model of the Colorado cinema where 12 moviegoers were shot to death in 2012 should not be used at the trial of the accused gunman because it was damaged during shipping, defense lawyers said on Friday.

Attorneys for James Holmes said in a motion that a large-scale model of the Century 16 movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora was built by FBI technicians in Virginia.

But it was damaged when it was shipped to the FBI’s Denver field office earlier this year, and was later repaired with "materials purchased at a local Home Depot."

"The model now has scale issues with small details both inside and outside the theater," the motion said.

Defense lawyers said they did not know if whoever made the repairs had specialized training in crime scene reconstruction. As such, they said it was unreliable and prosecutors should be barred from using it as evidence.

Prosecutors have not formally responded to the motion, but defense lawyers indicated the government opposed excluding the model as evidence.

Holmes, 26, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the massacre that killed 12 and injured 70 others during a screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Prosecutors have charged him with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the shooting rampage. His lawyers have acknowledged their client was the sole gunman, but say he suffers from a chronic mental illness.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for the California native if he is convicted of the mass murder.

It is unclear when Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour will rule on the motion. The trial is set to begin with jury selection in mid-October.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

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