James Holmes: Accused Colorado gunman to seek insanity plea

Accused Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes listens at his arraignment in Centennial, Colorado March 12, 2013. REUTERS/R.J. Sangosti/Pool
Accused Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes listens at his arraignment in Centennial, Col., in March. Credit: R.J. Sangosti/Reuters

Accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes, who could face execution if convicted of murdering 12 moviegoers last year, will appear in a Colorado courtroom Monday at a hearing where his lawyers will seek to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire during a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” last July.

The attack, which along with last year’s Connecticut school rampage helped reignite a national debate on gun control, ranks as one of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings. Fifty-eight people were also wounded by gunfire.

A court filing by Holmes’ public defenders last week said he intended to enter the plea at a hearing on May 13, but attorneys continued to object to the constitutionality of the state’s insanity defense law.

A judge had previously entered a not guilty plea for the former neuroscience graduate student in March, but ruled that it could be changed to not guilty by reason of insanity if defense lawyers showed “good cause.”

Prosecutors announced last month that they would seek to put the California native to death if he is convicted of the massacre, citing the “especially heinous, cruel or depraved” nature of the crime.

Since it is a death penalty case, it is widely expected that Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. will grant the change-of-plea request.

Defense lawyers hinted in an earlier pleading that they may enter the insanity plea over their client’s objections. If an insanity defense is raised, Colorado law requires that the prosecution must prove a defendant was of sound mind at the time of the alleged crime.

Holmes’ public defenders have said in written filings and in open court that their client suffers from an unspecified mental illness.

Twice since his arrest, Holmes has been transported from his jail cell to a hospital, once where he was held for several days in a psychiatric ward “frequently in restraints,” his lawyers said in a court filing.

Police said they found inside Holmes’ apartment a bottle of the anti-seizure medication clonazepam, which can also be used to treat anxiety disorders, and a bottle of the antidepressant sertraline, known by its brand name Zoloft.

It is unclear if Holmes had either drug in his system during the shooting spree.

At a preliminary hearing in January, prosecutors laid out their case against Holmes, with investigators detailing his weapons purchases, the rigging of his apartment with explosives, along with other plans to commit mass murder.

Also at issue at Monday’s hearing is a defense motion asking the judge to apply “heightened standards or fairness and reliability” for all proceedings in the capital case to ensure that Holmes is accorded due process.

Prosecutors responded in a written motion that the defense motion is vague and “essentially meaningless” because case law supports the elevated threshold only in the sentencing phase of death penalty cases, not at the trial level.

“Defendants in noncapital case and capital cases are entitled to the same constitutional rights during the trial on the underlying offense,” the prosecution motion said.

Holmes’ trial is scheduled for February 2014.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Newest java joint in bastion of hipness is…

Little may represent the change the neighborhood is undergoing right now like the arrival of the first Starbucks. The chain which is ubiquitous in Manhattan, opened a Williamsburg store at…

National

Black and white are the new orange at…

By Brendan O'Brien(Reuters) - Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail…

National

Traps set after reports of giant snake on…

New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Music

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks more accessible than Animal…

Believe it or not, Avey Tare — the man in the mustachioed mask pictured here in the pool of blood — may have made the poppiest music of his career.

Entertainment

‘The Leftovers’ recap: Season 1, Episode 4, ‘B.J.…

Last week’s episode of “The Leftovers” was apparently a fluke, because this week’s episode returns to focusing on the Garveys and it is so boring.…

Movies

Interview: Luc Besson says 'Lucy' is very different…

Filmmaker Luc Besson talks about his new film "Lucy," how it's different than "Limitless" and his crazy first conversation with Egyptian actor Amr Waked.

Music

Weezer releases first new song since 2010

Weezer releases "Back to the Shack," their first new song in almost six years.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…

Tech

Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.

Home

Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.