Not Guilty Plea for Accused Aurora Gunman James Holmes
A judge entered a not guilty plea for accused Aurora theater gunman James Holmes on charges that he killed 12 and wounded dozens in an attack that horrified the nation last summer.
Holmes faces up to 166 charges for murder and attempted murder. His arraignment had originally been scheduled for January, but was pushed back at the request of his defense attorneys.
He had been widely expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but his lawyers argued that they weren’t ready to respond to the charges, so the judge acted to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf. The insanity defense could still be invoked at a later date.
Holmes’ parents were present in the courtroom for the first public appearance in months of the accused rampage killer, who appeared at the arraignment in a thick red beard.
There is effectively no doubt that Holmes was the man who walked into a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire on the crowd last July 20, after booby trapping his apartment in an attempt to create a diversion. Police arrested him in the theater parking lot minutes later while he still carried the equipment for murder. The question, still open, is how he will choose to defend himself in court to avoid a potential death sentence if convicted.
Yesterday a judge ruled that Holmes must waive medical confidentiality and allow himself to be drugged for a psychiatric exam, or “narcoanalytic interview,” if he is to use the insanity defense. Holmes’ attorneys had contended that the requirements were unconstitutional, but Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester rejected the argument.
The evaluation would include drugs designed to lower the defendant’s inhibitions, sometimes referred to as “truth serum,” to help determine his mental capabilities. Holmes will also be compelled to provide the name of any doctor he’s ever seen for mental health problems.
According to documents that became public for the first time last week, he spent several days under restraints in a psychiatric ward last fall.
Prosecutors must decided within two months if they intend to seek the death penalty.