CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Prosecutors next week will begin laying out their case against James Holmes, the University of Colorado graduate school dropout accused of fatally shooting 12 people this summer during a crowded midnight movie premiere in Aurora.
Holmes faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in connection with the July 20 shootings at "The Dark Knight Rises" premiere that also wounded 58 people.
During a short court hearing Wednesday morning, prosecutors and Holmes' defense attorneys said they are ready to proceed with a preliminary hearing on the evidence against Holmes. The hearing, scheduled to begin Monday, is expected to last a week.
At that hearing, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester will decide whether there's enough evidence to allow the case against Holmes to proceed. The hearing will be the public's first opportunity to hear the prosecution's evidence -- photos, videos and witness testimony -- and how defense attorneys intended to counter it.
Word that the preliminary hearing would begin came as relatives of nine of the 12 theatergoers killed said they had rejected an invitation to attend the Jan 17 reopening of the movie theater. In a letter to theater owner Cinemark, victims' family members said the company had not reached out to offer condolences and said the company refused to meet with them without lawyers present.
The families said they were asked to attend an "evening of remembrance" followed by a movie when the Aurora theater reopens on Jan. 17 in invitations sent two days after Christmas. Gov. John Hickenlooper is among those planning to attend.
The families of some victims have sued Cinemark. The father of the youngest person killed in the shooting, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, is among them. He didn't sign the letter -- which called Cinemark's invitation "disgusting," but the girl's grandparents did.
Holmes' attorneys say he is mentally ill, raising the possibility of an insanity defense. Holmes attended Wednesday's hearing but did not speak with anyone.
Prosecutors have not yet announced whether they will seek the death penalty. A decision on that is expected later this year.
Holmes was enrolled in a Ph.D. neuroscience program at the university. He allegedly began stockpiling firearms and ammunition while taking classes in the spring.
In June, he made threats to a professor and on June 10 filed withdrawal papers after failing a year-end exam, prosecutors said. The next day he saw his school psychiatrist, who tried to report him to a campus security committee, according to Holmes' lawyers.
By Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Hughes also reports for The Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo. Contributing: Associated Press, Gary Strauss
USA Today / Gannett