James Holmes Pleads Insanity
Judge accepts plea; mental evaluation to follow
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 4, 2013 12:26 PM CDT
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.   (AP Photo/The Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool, File)

(Newser) As expected, accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity today, and a judge accepted the plea—setting the stage for a mental evaluation that could take months. Holmes' lawyers repeatedly have said he is mentally ill, but they delayed the insanity plea while arguing state laws were unconstitutional. They said the laws could hobble the defense if Holmes' case should ever reach the phase where the jury decides if he should be executed. The judge rejected that argument last week.

The insanity plea is widely seen as Holmes' best chance of avoiding execution, and possibly his only chance, given the weight of the evidence against him. If jurors find Holmes not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital. He could eventually be released if doctors find his sanity has been restored, but that is considered unlikely. If jurors convict him, the next step is the penalty phase; if they impose the death penalty rather than life in prison, it would trigger court appeals and open other possibilities that would take years to resolve.

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Jun 5, 2013 1:32 PM CDT
Jun 5, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his pleadings and trial; if and when he is found guilty and sentenced to death, his chances of living an additional 15 to 25 years are a heck of a lot better than mine (at age 71). Colorado has 1 on death row now, James Dunlap, who murdered 4 in the robbery of a Chucky Cheese restaurant in 1996 is still there today, 17 years later.
Jun 5, 2013 7:12 AM CDT
Oh yeah, figures.... After he's found GUILTY on all counts, can the judge just turn him over to the murdered one's families and friends?