18th Judicial District Judge Carlos Armando Samour Jr. On Monday, April 1, 2013, District Judge William Sylvester named Samour to take over the case of Aurora, Colo., theater shooting suspect James Holmes.(AP Photo/State of Colorado Judicial Branch)

Salvadoran immigrant named new judge for James Holmes’ trial

In a court hearing today, District Judge William Sylvester called for Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. to take over the case against James Holmes – the man accused in last year’s movie theater attack that killed 12 and injured 70 in Aurora, Colorado.  Judge Sylvester also said he would like to seek the death penalty against James Holmes, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Judge Samour was born in El Salvador, and in 1979, at age 13, he moved with his family to the United States. He is a graduate of Columbine High School, where in 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 15 people and wounded 23 people in a prior mass shooting. Judge Samour also graduated with honors from the University of Colorado at Denver with a degree in psychology.

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Judge Samour was in private practice for five years with the firm Holland & Hart in Denver, and then served as a Deputy District Attorney for 10 years in Denver. He was later appointed a District Judge in 2006, and took the bench in 2007, where he presides over both civil and criminal cases.

According to the Colorado Office of Judicial Performance, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, who have observed Judge Samour in his courtroom, have found him to be “very friendly, efficient and professional. He is praised for his knowledge of the law and his fairness.” He also volunteers his time as a Spanish language presenter for the “Our Courts” program — a program that explains how the state courts work to the public.

The decision to seek the death penalty resulted from a court hearing held four days after prosecutors publicly rejected an offer by the attorneys of James Holmes’ attorneys that stated he would plead guilty to avoid execution.

The decision will delay the trial from August 2013 until at least February 2014, in order to give all sides time to prepare.

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