Holmes case: Insanity pleas constitutional

2013-05-30 11:02
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - A US judge ruled on Wednesday that Colorado's laws on insanity pleas are constitutional, resolving a legal challenge ahead of accused Aurora cinema shooter James Holmes's expected plea later this week.

Holmes, suspected of killing 12 people and wounding another 70 by opening fire in the packed cinema during a showing of a Batman movie last July, is expected to plead not guilty due to insanity on Friday.

In court documents published ahead of that hearing, judge Carlos Samour dismissed arguments that the western US state's laws on insanity and the death penalty violate the constitution.

"The statutory provisions of the insanity statutes and the death penalty statute challenged by the defendant are constitutional," he wrote in a 50-page ruling published online.

The trial judge initially entered a straight "not guilty" plea on Holmes's behalf in March, when lawyers for the 25-year-old said they were not yet ready to enter a plea.

At a new hearing on 13 May Holmes's court-appointed attorney Daniel King said he was willing to enter an insanity plea, but the judge said he would not yet formally accept the change of plea, and set this week's new court date.

Prosecutors seeking death penalty

In the meantime Holmes' lawyers argued that Colorado's laws on pleading not guilty due to insanity violated his right against self-incrimination, according to the Denver Post.

The laws require defendants making such a plea to undergo a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. If they refuse, they are barred from calling any mental-health experts of their own to testify on their behalf in court.

Last year's massacre took place at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, outside Denver, reviving America's long-running debate about gun control.

Witnesses said Holmes threw smoke bomb-type devices before opening fire in the cinema with weapons including an AR-15 military-style rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-calibre pistol.

Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty in the case, in which Holmes faces 166 counts of capital murder and attempted murder.

Read more on:    james holmes  |  us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.