Aurora Movie Shooter Will Plead Insanity
DENVER (CN) - The man accused of killing 12 people at a "Batman" movie and wounding dozens will plead not guilty by reason of insanity, his attorneys said Tuesday.
Attorneys for James Holmes will enter the insanity plea at a status hearing next week.
Holmes is accused of shooting up an Aurora, Colo. movie theater last July at a midnight premier of a new "Batman" movie.
Holmes, 25, a dropout doctoral student, is accused of throwing canisters of tear gas into the crowd and then committing mass murder with shotguns, handguns and an assault rifle equipped with a 100-round drum magazine.
If convicted of murder, Holmes could face the death penalty.
In a notice filed Tuesday, defense attorneys Daniel King and Tamara Brady told the court they will try to save Holmes' life by arguing that he was insane when he carried out the bloodbath.
The announcement brings an end to months of speculation about the plea.
At Holmes' arraignment in March, Arapahoe County Chief Judge William Sylvester entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf because his attorneys said that they weren't ready to enter a plea of their own.
Holmes' attorneys previously filed five motions asking Judge Sylvester to clarify aspects of Colorado's insanity defense rules, suggesting that such a plea was forthcoming.
Sylvester, who has recused himself for scheduling reasons, declined to weigh in on the matter.
At the arraignment, King and Brady told the court they were "still digesting" their plea options. That process was expedited when District Attorney George Brauchler announced at an April 1 hearing that the state would seek the death penalty.
A few days before that hearing, Holmes' attorneys revealed in a filing that their client was willing to spend the rest of his life in prison if the state agreed not to pursue a capital trial. Prosecutors rejected the offer and the judge scolded the parties for discussing a potential plea deal in motions.
In an order also published Tuesday, Judge Carlos Samour, who took over when Sylvester stepped aside, acknowledged the plea announcement and told the defense they would have to show good cause for an insanity plea at the next hearing, on May 13.
Court records show that Holmes was seeing University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton in the months before the massacre.
In January, the widow of one shooting victim sued Fenton and the school on a negligence claim, claiming that Fenton sat on her hands after Holmes told her "that he fantasized about killing a lot of people."