Judge Rejects Motions|in ‘Batman’ Murders

     DENVER (CN) – The judge in accused mass murderer James Holmes’ case denied six defense motions, on the death penalty and victims’ testimony, finding most of the arguments repetitive.
     Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour on Friday issued six orders related in the Batman movie shootings case.
     Holmes is charged with 166 felony counts, including first-degree and attempted murder. Twelve people died and more than 50 were wounded during the July 20, 2012 massacre in an Aurora movie theater at a midnight premiere of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.”
     Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty.
     Four of the Friday rulings denied defense attempts to declare the death penalty unconstitutional.
     The first death penalty ruling rebuffed a motion calling the death penalty unconstitutional because it requires making a choice that is arbitrary and not based on reason.
     Three other rulings deal with the death penalty in different aspects; the first ruling mentions the other motions and why Judge Samour denied them.
     “The defendant challenges Colorado’s capital sentencing scheme as ‘arbitrary and unconstitutional’ based on its ‘list of aggravating factors,'” Samour wrote.
     But he found the defense failed to meet the “heavy burden” of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the death penalty scheme is unconstitutional.
     “As a preliminary matter, the motion’s Achilles’ heel is that it incorrectly assumes that eligibility for a death sentence is based solely on the applicability of a statutory aggravator,” Samour wrote. “As the defendant previously conceded, the requisite narrowing function is accomplished by more than the establishment of at least one aggravating factor in stage one of the sentencing process; mitigation and the weighing of mitigation, or stages two and three of the sentencing process are also involved in achieving that function. Thus, even if the defendant’s premise were correct his motion would nevertheless fail.
     “Moreover, Motion D-163 does little more than incorporate by reference and generally repeats the arguments advanced in Motions D-157, D-158, D-159, D-160, D-161 and D-162. The defendant states that he filed Motion D-163 ‘to emphasize’ the assertions in those motions. The court denied the aforementioned motions on May 2, 2014. For the reasons articulated in those orders, which the court incorporates here by reference the constitutional challenge in Motion D-163 is rejected. Repeating and emphasizing claims set forth in other motions does not add to the merit of the claims.” (Some citations to motions omitted.)
     The fifth order Samour addressed the defense attempt to bar victims from testifying in the sentencing hearing. Samour claimed that attempt already has been dealt with.
     “The defendant urges the court to exclude as unconstitutional victim impact evidence from any capital sentencing hearing. Precedent from both the United State Supreme Court and the Colorado Supreme Court directly undercut the defendant’s request. Therefore, it is denied.” (Citation to motion omitted.)
     The trial is expected to be on schedule and is set for Oct. 14.

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