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Colorado theater shooting suspect wants to use insanity defense

Pool / Reuters file

James Eagan Holmes at his arraignment March 12 in Centennial, Colo.

James Eagan Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others in a Colorado movie theater last year, wants to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyers said in court documents filed Tuesday.

Holmes could seek to enter the plea next Monday, when he's scheduled in court.

That's assuming the judge goes along. Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester previously entered a not guilty plea for Holmes, rejecting the claims of his defense lawyers that the state's law governing insanity pleas is unconstitutional. To change the plea now, Holmes' lawyers will have to show "good cause."

Sylvester has ordered that if Holmes goes through with an insanity defense, he would have to turn over the names, addresses and medical reports of any doctor or psychologist who has ever treated him for a psychiatric condition.

Holmes would also immediately be committed for a state examination, during which doctors would be allowed to administer "such drugs as are medically appropriate" to ensure his lucidity.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for Holmes, 25, a former medical student at the University of Colorado-Denver. He is charged with 166 felony counts of murder, attempted murder and other felonies in the shootings July 20 at a theater in Aurora showing the premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises."


Notice of intent to change plea by Holmes' lawyers (.pdf)

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