Accused Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes was in court today to plead not guilty due to insanity. If found guilty, Holmes could face the death penalty for the deaths of 12 movie-goers at the Aurora theater. The 25-year-old is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder, arising from the rampage that left 12 dead, and dozens more wounded.
The judge, Carlos Samour Jr., had delayed ruling on whether to accept such an insanity plea until legal questions surrounding the matter were resolved.
Among those issues was a challenge to the state’s insanity-defense law by public defenders. They argued that a provision of the statute that requires a defendant mounting an insanity defense to submit to an examination by court-appointed psychiatrists is unconstitutional.
Compelling a defendant to divulge information that could be used against him at trial and at sentencing violates his right against self-incrimination, they argued. But Samour upheld the law last week, setting the stage for Tuesday’s hearing.
Holmes has been hospitalized twice while in custody – once for self-inflicted head injuries, and once when he was held in restraints in a psychiatric ward. He was ordered to stand trial in January, after it had been revealed in testimony by investigators that he had spent months preparing to commit mass murder by acquiring firearms and bomb making materials.