Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(FILE - In this March 12, 2013 file photo, James Holmes, left, and defense attorney Tamara Brady appear in district court in Centennial, Colo. for his arraignment. Lawyers for Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a Colorado movie theater, said Tuesday May 7, 2013 he wants to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool) , File)
Colorado shootings suspect James Holmes to enter insanity plea
First Published May 07 2013 03:42 pm • Last Updated May 07 2013 05:27 pm

Denver • The man accused in the deadly Colorado theater shootings wants to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Attorneys for James Holmes said in a court filing they plan to formally ask for the change of plea at a May 13 hearing.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The insanity plea was widely expected given the compelling evidence against Holmes, who is accused of opening fire July 20 in a crowded theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 70 injured.

But his lawyers delayed entering an insanity plea for weeks, saying Colorado’s insanity and death penalty laws overlapped in a way that could severely — and unconstitutionally — hamper his defense if he did plead insanity.

The defense has asked both judges who have presided over the case to rule on the constitutionality of the laws. Both judges refused, saying the question was speculative because Holmes hadn’t entered an insanity plea. That left Holmes’ lawyers with no choice but to enter the insanity plea, then seek a ruling on the constitutionality question.

Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

A judge in the case previously entered a standard not guilty plea for him. If a judge accepts the new plea, Holmes would be sent to the state mental hospital, where doctors would determine whether he was insane at the time of the shootings.

If the doctors do determine that Holmes was insane, a jury could still find him guilty.

Colorado law defines insanity as the inability to distinguish right from wrong, caused by a diseased or defective mind. The law specifically excludes depravity, "moral obliquity" or passion caused by anger or hatred from being considered insanity.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. They declined to comment Tuesday.


story continues below
story continues below

Holmes’ attorneys have said in court hearings and written in court documents that Holmes is mentally ill. He was being seen by a psychiatrist before the attack at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie. Prosecutors say Holmes spent months buying guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, donned police-style body armor and opened fire in the crowded theater.

Last month, prosecutors filed a court document listing aggravating factors they plan to raise in a possible death penalty phase of the trial. The factors included the death of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest of dead.

Prosecutors also said in the filing that the slayings were "especially heinous, cruel or depraved."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.