Judge Accepts Insanity Plea|in Aurora Movie Massacre

     DENVER (CN) – A judge Tuesday accepted an insanity plea from James Holmes, who’s accused of murdering 12 people and wounding dozens in last summer’s Colorado movie massacre.
     Holmes will claim at trial that he was “so diseased or defective in mind” that he did not know right from wrong when he massacred people with an assault rifle, two handguns and a shotgun at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora last July.
     At his advisement hearing Tuesday, Holmes told Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour that he understood the consequences of his insanity plea.
     The hearing ended months of speculation about an insanity plea. At Holmes’ arraignment in March, a judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf after his attorneys said they were not prepared to enter a plea.
     Defense attorneys subsequently revealed in a motion that Holmes was willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison if prosecutors agreed not to purse the death penalty. That proposal went nowhere. The district attorney seeks Holmes’ death.
     When it became clear that Holmes faced death if convicted, his attorneys filed motions challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s rules for insanity pleas and asking the court for clarifications. In an order filed last week, Judge Samour found the statutes constitutional and resolved outstanding issues for the expected insanity plea.
     Now that his plea has been accepted, Holmes will be committed to a “sanity examination” at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, about 100 miles south of Denver. He will be interviewed by one or more psychiatrists, and may be forced to cooperate with tests that include polygraphs and narcoanalytic interviews: interviews under sleep-inducing drugs, so-called “truth serum.”
     Any testimony he offers during the examinations can be used against him in court.
     Holmes waived his right to doctor-patient privilege when he entered the insanity plea. That means that a notebook Holmes sent his psychiatrist days before the shooting is fair game. Media reports suggest that the notebook contains violent imagery.
     Holmes’ public defenders fought to keep the notebook under wraps.
     Holmes’ attorneys met their May 31 noncapital motions deadline by filing 89 motions at once.
     Some of them offered insights into Holmes’ mental capacity immediately after the attack on Auditorium 9.
     According to one motion to suppress testimony Holmes provided soon after his arrest, he appeared lucid enough to defend his constitutional rights.
     “As [Aurora Police Department Detective Chuck] Mehl read Mr. Holmes his Miranda warnings, Mr. Holmes asked, ‘How do I get a lawyer?'” the motion states. “Mehl responded, ‘Well, we’ll talk about that,’ and continued to administer Holmes his Miranda warnings.
     “Immediately after Mehl was finished reading the warnings, Mr. Holmes then stated that he wanted to ‘invoke the Sixth Amendment.’ Mehl stated, ‘So, you’re invoking your right to legal counsel,’ to which Mr. Holmes responded, ‘Yeah.’ Despite this response, the detectives did not cease all interrogation, instead asking, ‘Is there anyone else we need to be concerned about at the theaters?’ After a brief exchange, Mr. Holmes again stated, ‘I want a court-appointed attorney.'”
     Another defense motion claims an arresting officer described Holmes as “out of it and disoriented” shortly after the attack.
     Holmes’ attorneys also filed motions to suppress evidence found in his apartment, car, wallet, email accounts, bank records and computers, all of which were searched without warrants.
     One motion to suppress claims that police discovered records of Holmes’ activity on two Internet dating sties, Match.com and Adult Friend Finder, after his phone and car were searched illegally. The motion says that Holmes referred to himself as “Classic Jim” or “Classic Jimbo” on the websites.
     One newly filed motion seeks a change in venue to nearby Adams County, where Holmes lived. He is charged with possessing explosives at the apartment, and his attorneys claim he must be tried in the county where the offense was committed.
     “This Court should exercise its discretion and change venue to protect Mr. Holmes’ right to a fair trial and, if necessary, a fair jury sentencing proceeding,” the motion states. “A change of venue would result in a more expeditious and fair trial in this capital proceeding, a proceeding that requires enhanced reliability under the Eighth Amendment and the State’s constitutional counterpart.”
     Defense attorneys have called repeatedly for the court to exercise a heightened standard of reliability in all aspects of the trial because Holmes’ life is at stake.
     A dozen of the newly filed motions ask Samour to rule out testimony by experts in ballistics, fingerprinting, criminal profiling, handwriting, hair and fiber analysis, DNA analysis, forensic computer analysis and cryptanalysis, claiming these are not reliable scientific methods – a tough argument to make, surely, for DNA analysis.
     The motion to preclude expert testimony from a cryptanalyst – defined by the FBI as a forensic code-breaker – reveals that the FBI sent one of its riddle readers to examine a mysterious symbol on Holmes’ calendar.
     Another significant portion of the new motions asks the court to compel discovery on records ranging from redacted medical reports to witness statements and police communications.
     In one example, Holmes requests discovery into investigation of a threatening email the Century 16 movie theater received days after the massacre. According to that motion, the disturbing email read: “I am coming over to finish his job. The master demands it.”
     Other defense motions challenge the constitutionality of Colorado’s “extreme indifference” murder statute, which holds that someone can be convicted of a superior form of first-degree murder if there is evidence of “an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life generally.” Holmes’ attorneys claim the standard is unconstitutionally vague.
     Other motions address issues ranging from security to courtroom etiquette.
     One motion requests that Holmes be allowed to wear civilian clothes to trial, while another asks the court to limit “unnecessary” security in the courtroom.
     Jurors should not be allowed to have cell phones, the motions argue, and they should be required to complete a comprehensive questionnaire on the case and their opinions on the death penalty.
     Prosecutors have until June 28 to respond to the noncapital defense motions. Capital motions are due on Sept. 27. The trial is scheduled for February 2014.

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