The judge overseeing the Colorado theater shooting trial is a 48-year-old Salvadorian immigrant who's winning praise from legal experts for his careful handling of the death-penalty case.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. faces a daily challenge of balancing the raw emotion of the trial with the need to be dispassionate. He still speaks in a heavy accent that softens his sometimes strict and stern demeanor.

If he has his own powerful feelings when he steps down from the bench, Samour doesn't show it. But he spends nights and weekends researching case law and writing rulings, a sign of how the trial has preoccupied him.

The stakes are high. Any significant error could risk having the case overturned on appeal and forcing everyone to go through a retrial.