The Colorado v. Holmes plea motion is available at Scribd.
"James Holmes offers to plead guilty in Colorado massacre," is by Jenny Deam for the Los Angeles Times.
James E. Holmes, accused of unleashing the Aurora movie theater massacre in July, has offered to plead guilty to killing 12 people and injuring 70 if prosecutors do not seek the death penalty.
In an unusual court filing, defense lawyers revealed Wednesday that they had made the standing offer weeks ago for Holmes to serve life in prison without possibility of parole for the July 20 mass shooting.
So far the prosecution has declined the offer, the document said.
Dist. Atty. George Brauchler of Colorado's 18th Judicial District is to announce Monday whether he will seek the death penalty. Capital punishment is rare in Colorado, with only three people on death row.
Holmes' attorneys have been expected to use an insanity defense, and their latest filing said they could still do so at trial or sentencing. If he is found to be insane or to suffer from a mental defect, he could not be put to death.
Holmes, 25, a former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado-Denver, is charged with 166 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons violations in connection with the massacre in a packed suburban movie theater. The case evoked worldwide horror and became a touchstone in the national gun debate.
Two weeks ago, an impatient Chief Judge William Sylvester entered a not guilty plea on Holmes' behalf after defense lawyers said they were not prepared to do so. The arraignment had been postponed several times, and the judge said the case needed to move forward.
The defense offer was revealed in a routine court scheduling document, making it that much more unusual, said Rick Kornfeld, a former federal prosecutor turned defense attorney who has been closely following the case. Typically, any negotiations between the two sides are kept under wraps until an agreement is reached, he said.
But Kornfeld called it a potentially smart strategic move by the defense because "it is clearly intended to put public pressure on the prosecution to resolve the case immediately." He said a plea would not only offer closure for victims but save the state millions of dollars for a protracted trial.
James Holmes is willing to spend the rest of his life in prison if it means there's no chance he'll be executed. Now prosecutors have to decide whether that's a deal they're willing to make with the former graduate student accused in last summer's Colorado movie theater massacre.
For former prosecutor Bob Gallagher, an earlier case involved one of the toughest decisions of his life.
He remembers the case in which defense attorneys came to him with tears in their eyes asking for a plea deal that would spare their client the death penalty.
He turned them down. The 1993 gunshot slayings of four people in a Denver-area Chuck E. Cheese pizzeria were so vicious and the suspect showed so little remorse, Gallagher said, that he believed the death penalty should be an option for the jury.
"That is no doubt one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make," said Gallagher, the Arapahoe County district attorney at the time. "Am I, the elected DA, qualified to talk about and make up my mind on a moral decision? Should this person be put to death or not?"
Now, as Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of the murders in 1996 and sentenced to die, waits on death row, Holmes may have a chance to avoid finding himself in the same place.
"Defense in Colorado Killings Seeks Plea Deal," by Dan Frosch at the New York Times.
Defense lawyers for James E. Holmes, who is charged with killing 12 people and wounding dozens more at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last summer, signaled in court filings on Wednesday that they were willing to have Mr. Holmes plead guilty if he was spared the death penalty.
Mr. Holmes, who faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges, would accept a sentence of life in prison without parole if prosecutors consented to the deal, his lawyers stated in the documents that were filed in Arapahoe County District Court.
“Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved,” his defense lawyers wrote. “It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty.”
"Lawyers for accused Colorado theater gunman offer guilty plea," by Keith Coffman and Chris Frantz for ReutersLegal.
In Wednesday's pleading, defense lawyers said that if prosecutors agree to take the death penalty off the table for Holmes the case could be resolved at Monday's hearing.
Attorneys for the former University of Colorado neuroscience graduate student, who surrendered to officers outside the theater minutes after the shooting rampage, had been expected to mount an insanity defense on his behalf at trial.
"As previously stated in court, counsel for Mr. Holmes are still exploring a mental health defense, and counsel will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defenses at a trial or sentencing proceeding as necessary," defense lawyers said in the court papers.
"Nevertheless, Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," the defense said.
Lawyers for Holmes have said in court filings that their client has been hospitalized twice since his arrest, once after hitting his head against a cell wall.
Holmes was also held in restraints for several days at a psychiatric hospital in November after jail officials determined he was a threat to himself, according to his defense team.
"James Holmes may plead guilty to avoid death penalty, court documents show," is by John Ingold for the Denver Post.
The move swings the spotlight onto prosecutors, who have said they will announce during a court hearing Monday whether they will seek the death penalty. Prosecutors are talking with theater shooting victims and their families to hear their opinions on capital punishment for the case.
Holmes' attorneys wrote in their motion that prosecutors have not accepted the offer. Denver defense attorney Dan Recht said the offer narrows prosecutors' decisions to a single question: Is death the only acceptable punishment in the case?
"Holmes can't offer any more than he is offering," said Recht, who has been following the case. "The choice for the prosecution could not be clearer."
Earlier coverage of the high-visibility Colorado case begins at the link.