Aurora theater shooting: James Holmes seeks details on insanity plea
Lawyers for Aurora theater-shooting suspect James Holmes are challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s laws for insanity pleas, introducing a complicated new argument into his case.
In a flurry of motions filed Thursday and made public Friday, Holmes’ attorneys question whether the requirements for an insanity plea violate defendants’ rights against self-incrimination. They also argue that the laws provide less protection for people facing the death penalty — as Holmes might — than for defendants facing prison terms.
Without answers from the judge, the lawyers say Holmes can’t decide whether to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. He is scheduled to enter a plea March 12.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 more by gunfire July 20.
“Mr. Holmes is considering entering a plea” of not guilty by reason of insanity, Holmes’ attorneys wrote in one motion, citing the specific statute numbers that cover the plea, “but he cannot intelligently decide how to proceed, until this Court rules upon certain legal issues related to the entry of such a plea and advises Mr. Holmes and counsel of the consequences of such a plea.”
Though Holmes’ attorneys have broadly hinted previously that he was considering a mental-health defense, the five motions filed this week are the first time they have been so explicit about the strategy they are considering.
The filings are likely to introduce significant delays to the case, which has stretched on for more than six months without a trial date even being set. But experts said the arguments aren’t legal filibustering from Holmes’ attorneys.
“These are very legitimate issues,” said Denver lawyer David Beller, a criminal-law expert who is not connected to the case.
Psychiatrist DID warn police about Holmes: Cache of documents reveals James Holmes text threats and how he kept a Batman mask in apartment
James Holmes text messaged and emailed threats to his psychologist and kept a Batman mask and dozens bottles of beer and liquor at his apartment, a new cache of documents released today reveals.
On June 12, University of Colorado – Denver psychologist Lynne Felton called campus police and reported that Holmes, who had been her patient but stopped seeing her, had been harassing her and that she believed he was having homicidal thoughts.
Officers responded by deactivating Holmes’ student ID card, which blocked his access to building at the Anschutz Medical Campus, where he had been a student.
‘Homicidal’: James Holmes’ psychiatrist said that he had stopped coming to see her and had begun sending her threats over text message and email
The revelations came today after Judge William Sylvester unsealed search warrants from the investigation into the July 20 2012 shooting at a midnight screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ that killed 12 people and left 58 wounded.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers claim he is mentally ill. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The new documents show that police seized chemical formulas, bottles of chemicals and a Batman mask from his apartment.
Warning: Lynne Felton, a University of Denver psychologist, told police that Holmes had harassed her
They also found 50 cans and bottles of beer and liquor, including Bacardi 151 rum and Jim Beam Black bourbon.
Holmes appears to have kept few personal items at his apartment.
- Attorneys: James Holmes Will Plead Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity (denver.cbslocal.com)
- James Holmes to plead not guilty by reason of insanity in theater shooting (kdvr.com)
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- Holmes pleads insanity in Aurora theater massacre (aurorasentinel.com)
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- Aurora Shooter James Holmes To Plead Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Colorado shootings suspect to enter insanity plea (wfaa.com)