(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — Attorneys for accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes say mental health experts have now examined and diagnosed their client, prompting them to ask a judge to change Holmes’ plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.
“We now have a diagnosis that is complete,” defense attorney Daniel King told the judge.
King did not say what the diagnosis is, but told the judge they were now ready to enter an insanity plea. In March, a judge entered a standard not guilty plea on Holmes’ behalf, over the objection of defense attorneys who said they needed more time before entering a plea.
Judge Carlos Samour did not immediately rule on whether he would accept the new plea, but signaled he is leaning in Holmes’ favor. Under Colorado law, a plea can be changed after an arraignment if attorneys show “good cause.” Samour said Holmes’ defense team had met that burden.
“Allowing Mr. Holmes to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity would be consistent with fairness and justice,” Samour told a packed courtroom.
Samour said he would rule on whether to accept the new plea later this month.
Holmes appeared in a maroon jail jumpsuit but showed little reaction to the proceeding. He has grown a full beard and sideburns, with his brown hair slightly disheveled. Eight armed court deputies were positioned around him in the courtroom.
Prosecutors objected to Holmes changing his plea, arguing that defense attorneys had dragged their feet.
“Our largest frustration is the amount of time it has taken to get to this point,” said senior deputy district attorney Jacob Edson.
King countered that the case is complex and voluminous, and that the defense team has been working “on all cylinders” in preparing to enter a plea.
“Mr. Holmes mental illness hasn’t changed in the last sixty days,” King told the judge. “We acted as promptly as we could.”
Holmes is accused of opening fire at a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, killing 12 moviegoers and injuring another 70.
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