Defending and prosecuting the Aurora movie theater shooting suspect is a complicated process. In May 2013, several newsworthy events have revolved around the case. Yesterday was no different.
According to the Denver Post on May 29, 2013, Judge Carlos Samour, the second judge assigned to the Holmes trial, issued a 51-page ruling opposing the defense’s claims that Colorado laws for insanity pleas are unconstitutional. A portion of that order was revealed by the Denver Post.
“[I]f the defendant fails to cooperate with the examination, the prosecution is placed at a severe disadvantage when attempting to rebut psychiatric evidence presented by the defendant,” Samour wrote in his order.
Without the cooperation provision, Samour wrote, “…it is difficult to imagine a rational and equitable administration of the death penalty in Colorado in a case involving a[n insanity] plea.”
Samour must clearly explain the consequences to the defendant prior to considering Holmes’ not guilty plea. Before doing so, the judge was forced to address the defense team’s claims of unconstitutional state laws.
A May 2013 timeline of additional notable events with the Holmes trial follows;
- May 6, 2013 – Attorneys for Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes are asking that Holmes be treated with “heightened standards of fairness and reliability” in his criminal case, now that prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty (full Denver Post article here).
- May 7, 2013 – James Holmes’ lawyers state they intend to “tender a plea of not guilty by a reason of insanity” (full Denver Post article here).
- May 10, 2013 – Prosecutors in the Aurora movie theater shooting case have hinted in a court document that suspect James Holmes was questioned prior to being read his [Miranda] rights (full Denver Post article here).
- May 14, 2013 – Court documents say prosecutors in the Colorado theater shootings have listed about 3,500 potential witnesses they could call during the trial of defendant James Holmes (full Huffington Post article here).
- May 16, 2013 – The judge who will hear the capital murder case against accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes has agreed to hear arguments on the constitutionality of Colorado’s insanity defense law in death penalty cases (full Reuters article here).
- May 22, 2013 – James Holmes received six shipments of ammunition from an online retailer, carried a platinum MasterCard and photographed the door to the movie theater where he allegedly killed 12 people and injured 70, according to court records released Wednesday.
The information comes from search warrants unsealed at the direction of the judge overseeing the case against Holmes, who could be executed if convicted of the 20 July 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado (full Guardian article here).
- May 23, 2013 – Holmes attorney Kristen Nelson on Thursday told Judge Carlos Samour that the state’s insanity-plea rule is unconstitutional because it would bar testimony from mental health experts, who could offer mitigating factors, during the sentencing phase of Holmes’ trial (full Denver Post article here).
- May 29, 2012 – Colorado’s laws for insanity pleas do not violate the U.S. Constitution, the judge in the Aurora movie theater shooting murder case has ruled (full Denver Post article here).
The judge’s order clears up the last disputed issues around a tendered insanity plea for theater shooting suspect James Holmes. Judge Carlos Samour, who issued Wednesday’s ruling, is expected to decide at a hearing on Friday whether to accept Holmes’ insanity plea (full Denver Post article here).
The public will learn if the court accepts the guilty by reason of insanity plea from Holmes’ defense team on Friday. Colorado’s laws for insanity pleas do not violate the U.S. Constitution. That fact was reinforced by Samour yesterday in the judge’s 51-page order.