A judge says prosecutors in the Colorado theater shootings can use evidence found in defendant James Holmes' apartment, which includes homemade bombs and a calendar with the day of the shootings highlighted.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A judge on Tuesday accepted James' Holmes plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, setting the stage for a lengthy mental evaluation of the Colorado theater shooting suspect.
Holmes is accused of opening fire in a packed Denver-area movie theater last summer, killing 12 people and injuring 70. He is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The mental evaluation could take months.
Holmes' lawyers repeatedly have said he is mentally ill, but they delayed the insanity plea while arguing state laws were unconstitutional. They said the laws could hobble the defense if Holmes' case should ever reach the phase where the jury decides if he should be executed.
The judge rejected that argument last week.
Hundreds of people were watching a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Aurora theater when the shooting occurred July 20.
The dead included a Navy veteran who threw himself in front of his friends to shield them, an aspiring sports journalist who had survived a mall shooting just two months earlier, and a 6-year-old girl.
Prosecutors say Holmes spent months buying weapons, ammunition and materials for explosives and scouted the theater in advance. He donned police-style body armor, tossed a gas canister into the seats and opened fire, they say.
The insanity plea is widely seen as Holmes' best chance of avoiding execution, and possibly his only chance, given the weight of the evidence against him.
But his lawyers delayed it for weeks, saying Colorado's laws on the insanity plea and the death penalty could work in combination to violate his constitutional rights.
The laws state that if Holmes does not cooperate with doctors conducting a mandatory mental evaluation, he would lose the right to call expert witnesses to testify about his sanity during the penalty phase of his trial. Defense lawyers argued that is an unconstitutional restriction on his right to build a defense. They also contended the law doesn't define cooperation.
Judge Carlos Samour Jr. rejected those arguments last week and said the laws are constitutional.
The next step is an evaluation of Holmes by state doctors to determine whether he was insane at the time of the shootings. That could take months.
Colorado law defines insanity as the inability to distinguish right from wrong caused by a diseased or defective mind.
If jurors find Holmes not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital. He could eventually be released if doctors find his sanity has been restored, but that is considered unlikely.
If jurors convict him, the next step is the penalty phase, during which both sides call witnesses to testify about factors that could affect why Holmes should or shouldn't be executed.
The jury would then decide whether Holmes should be executed or sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
If jurors impose the death penalty, it would trigger court appeals and open other possibilities that would take years to resolve.
Some recited the names of the dead. Some did good deeds for their neighbors. And some practiced yoga, walked through nature, or simply talked.
"The day that we could have died is the day that we get to spend the rest of our lives together," said Aurora, Colorado theater shooting survivor Kirstin Davis, who will marry her fiancé Saturday.
His face was hidden behind a gas mask, and he was costumed from head to toe in a police-style helmet, black cargo pants and black vest. Then he started shooting.
James Holmes, the former neuroscience graduate student accused of the deadly Colorado movie theater shootings, is headed to the state mental hospital for an evaluation of his sanity.
A judge on Tuesday accepted James' Holmes plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, setting the stage for a lengthy mental evaluation of the Colorado theater shooting suspect.
The suspect in the Colorado theater massacre could enter his long-expected insanity plea at a hearing Tuesday -- though the case could also veer off on another tangent as his lawyers seek the strongest possible defense.
Lawyers for the Colorado theater shooting suspect say he wants to change his plea to guilty by reason of insanity, but a judge won't rule on whether to allow that yet.
Lawyers for the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a Colorado movie theater say he wants to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.
Attorneys for the Colorado theater shooting suspect suggested in a court filing Monday that they might be considering entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity over their client's objections.