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article imageJudge accepts accused Colorado gunman James Holmes' insanity plea

By Yukio Strachan     Jun 4, 2013 in Crime
A Colorado judge on Tuesday accepted accused movie theater spree gunman James Holmes' plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, resolving a key legal issue in the highly anticipated case.
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour accepted the insanity plea, which replaced a standard not-guilty plea entered in March, during a 90-minute hearing.
TheDenverChannel.com points out that Tuesday's decision on the insanity plea sets the stage for a lengthy mental evaluation of Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in an attack during a midnight premiere of 'The Dark Knight Rises' on July 20, 2012. He is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The Associated Press reported that the document detailing the plea change was placed in front of Holmes, who leaned forward to look while defense attorney Dan King flipped through the pages. Samour then instructed all cameras to be turned off and asked if Holmes had any questions.
Holmes answered in a clear, firm voice one word: "no."
"I watched Mr. Holmes as he read the advisement. He appeared to be reading and following along," Samour stated.
According to The Denver Post, an insanity plea is just short of an admittance; the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled such pleas are "in the nature of confession and avoidance." And the plea change requires prosecutors to prove Holmes was mentally capable of knowing right from wrong at the time of the crime in order to win a conviction.
Also during Tuesday's hearing, the judge ordered that prosecutors be permitted access to the notebook Holmes sent to his therapist.
Defense attorneys argued the notebook was protected by doctor-patient privilege, but the judge ordered it be turned over to prosecutors by next Monday.
Outside the courthouse, USA Today writes, Marcus Weaver, who was wounded and lost his friend Rebecca Wingo in the shooting, called the order to evaluate Holmes' mental health a "step in the right direction."
"Do I think he's insane? Absolutely not," Weaver said. "And I think in the end when all the evidence is brought out and the dust settles, it will be the same result as if he did a not guilty plea."
Weaver said he wants to see Holmes executed: "I think it's the right thing to do," he said.
Holmes' trial, expected to last at least four months, is scheduled to begin Feb. 2, USA Today said.
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