James Holmes wants to plead not guilty by reason of insanity to the killing of 12 people and the injuring of 70 others in the Aurora movie theater attack.
In a one-page court filing Tuesday, Holmes' lawyers wrote they intend to "tender a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity."
Holmes would need the judge's permission to change his plea from the standard not guilty plea currently entered on his behalf. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. wrote in an order Tuesday that he will allow Holmes' attorneys to argue at a hearing Monday morning that they have "good cause" for the plea change.
"After the Court determines whether 'good cause' exists, it will decide how to proceed," Samour wrote in his order.
If Samour allows Holmes to enter an insanity plea, state law requires Samour to immediately order an independent psychiatric evaluation for Holmes. The current February trial date would probably be moved, legal experts said, and the case — already pending for nearly 10 months — would stretch out significantly longer.
"Colorado Shootings Suspect to Enter Insanity Plea," is the AP filing, via the New York Times.
The man accused in the deadly Colorado theater shootings wants to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyers said Tuesday, despite their fears that the plea could severely hamper his ability to mount a defense against the death penalty.
James Holmes is charged with more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder in the July 20 assault on a packed Aurora movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70. Prosecutors announced last month they would seek the death penalty.
Holmes was widely expected to plead insanity given the compelling evidence against him, but his attorneys put it off for weeks, saying state laws on the death penalty and insanity overlap in ways that violate his constitutional rights and his ability to mount an effective defense.
One of their worries: If Holmes doesn't cooperate with doctors who will evaluate his sanity at the state mental hospital, he could be barred from calling witnesses to testify about his mental condition during sentencing. That would make it nearly impossible for his lawyers to use his mental state as an argument against the death penalty.
"If you don't cooperate during the evaluation phase, you lose the right to call witnesses in your own behalf who could help convince a jury that your life should be spared," said Karen Steinhauser, an adjunct law professor and former prosecutor.
Two judges previously refused to address the constitutionality question, saying Holmes couldn't challenge the insanity law unless he entered an insanity plea first. That gave his lawyers little choice but to enter the plea and then try to make their case against the law.
Their filing Tuesday made it clear they are not giving up their right to challenge the laws, Steinhauser said.
Earlier coverage of the Colorado theater shooting case begins at the link.