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Judge enters plea of not guilty for accused Colorado movie gunman, sets August trial

Holmes, who appeared in court with a dark beard and hair, has been charged with murdering 12 people during a mass shooting in a Denver movie theater during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." The former neuroscience student was told he could change his plea to guilty by reason of insanity at a later date. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

A judge entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday for James Holmes, the man accused of massacring 12 people at a Batman movie last summer, and scheduled a one-month trial beginning in August.

Judge William Sylvester of Colorado circuit court entered the plea after lawyers for Holmes said they were not ready to plead. The judge left the door open for lawyers to mount an insanity defense later.

RJ Sangosti / Denver Post / Pool via AP

James Holmes, Aurora theater shooting suspect, sits in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo., on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

Holmes walked into the courtroom in Centennial, Colo., and locked eyes with his parents, who were sitting in the second row of the courtroom. He did not show any emotion.

The judge set an Aug. 5 trial date. Prosecutors will announce by April 1 whether they will seek the death penalty.

The judge ruled Monday that Holmes must waive medical confidentiality and agree to be drugged for a psychiatric exam if he wants to claim that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers had claimed that those provisions violated his constitutional rights.

Sylvester ruled that Holmes would have to turn over the names, addresses and medical reports of any doctor or psychologist who has treated him for a psychiatric condition.

The defense claimed in papers revealed last week that Holmes was hospitalized for several days last fall and required restraints.

Twelve people were killed and 70 injured in the July 20, 2012, shooting rampage at a midnight screening of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. Holmes surrendered to police within minutes of the attack.

At his first court appearances, Holmes had reddish-orange hair and a blank stare. At subsequent hearings, his hair has been more natural-looking and his demeanor more stable. He appeared Tuesday with a bushy beard.

Colorado lawmakers on Monday advanced a package of legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in the state.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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