US judge delays trial for alleged 'Batman shooter'

James Holmes appears in court at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colorado, on July 23, 2012. A United States judge on Thursday indefinitely postponed a planned February start date for the trial of Holmes, accused of killing 12 peopl
James Holmes appears in court at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colorado, on July 23, 2012. A United States judge on Thursday indefinitely postponed a planned February start date for the trial of Holmes, accused of killing 12 people in a massacre at a Colorado movie theatre last year. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A United States (US) judge on Thursday indefinitely postponed a planned February start date for the trial of James Holmes, accused of killing 12 people in a massacre at a Colorado movie theatre last year.

Judge Carlos Samour ordered the delay after prosecutors called for alleged gunman James Holmes to undergo another mental evaluation to determine whether he was insane at the time of the mass shooting in July last year.

"I'm not going to rush through any issue," the Arapahoe County District Court judge said, scheduling new hearings in the case for Dec 17 to 18 according to The Denver Post.

"I want to give every (legal) motion as much attention as they deserve," the newspaper cited him as saying.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others when he allegedly opened fire last July in a packed midnight screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises in the Colorado town of Aurora, outside Denver.

Witnesses said he threw smoke bomb-type devices before opening fire in the theatre with weapons including an AR-15 military-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-calibre pistol.

The massacre revived America's long-running debate about gun control, which was further fuelled by the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting in December which killed 26 people including 20 young children.

In June this year the judge accepted a plea of not guilty due to insanity from Holmes. But prosecutors last week filed a motion requesting a second mental evaluation.

Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty in the case, in which Holmes faces 166 counts of capital murder and attempted murder. Colorado currently has three convicted prisoners on death row but has not executed anyone since 1997.