As expected, the Colorado judge overseeing the case against Aurora theater shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes accepted the alleged shooter’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Holmes, 25, initially pleaded not guilty, in March, so he had to formally request to change his original plea so his lawyers can use an insanity defense at his trial. Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. accepted the insanity plea Tuesday, the Associated Press tweeted late Tuesday morning. Samour indicated earlier that he would do so.
Holmes is facing 160 charges of murder and attempted murder in the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that killed 17 people and wounded 70 others. The shooting was carried out during the theater’s midnight premiere of the Batman-themed “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20. Authorities said at the time that the shooter resembled the Joker character from the Batman movies, showing up at his initial court appearance with dyed-red hair.
While Holmes’ attorneys signaled that they would enter an insanity plea, they also left open the possibility of challenging Colorado’s insanity defense and death penalty statutes. They considered going to the U.S. Supreme Court with a case after Samour rejected the lawyers’ arguments on the laws’ constitutionality, according to the AP.
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