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Judge: James Holmes sanity exam can be recorded

By: The Associated Press
July 24, 2014 Updated: July 24, 2014 at 5:53 pm
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FILE - This June 4, 2013 file photo shows Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes in court in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is charged with the July 2012 Aurora shootings that killed 12 people and injured 70. Sunday, July 20, 2014 marks 2 years since theater massacre. Holmes' trial is scheduled to start Dec. 8, 2014 after three postponements. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Andy Cross, Pool, File)

CENTENNIAL — A psychiatrist will be allowed to video-record the second sanity evaluation of the man charged with a mass killing in a Colorado movie theater, despite his lawyer's objections, a judge ruled Thursday.

It wasn't clear whether the video of defendant James Holmes could be shown to jurors during his trial on murder and attempted murder charges.

Holmes' attorneys had argued that state law does not authorize video-recording and the presence of a camera could interfere with the exam.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said the law does not prohibit video and gives courts latitude on setting conditions of the examination. He also said the defense did not provide solid evidence that video would interfere.

The psychiatrist, whose name has not been made public, told Samour this week he routinely video-records sanity evaluations because it provides a more complete and accurate record than handwritten notes.

The psychiatrist downplayed the potential for video to influence the exam and said that risk was outweighed by the benefits.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack on a Denver-area theater.

He underwent a mandatory sanity evaluation last year, but the key finding — whether he could tell right from wrong — has not been released.

Prosecutors contended the psychiatrist who conducted that exam was biased. Samour ruled the evaluation was flawed and ordered another, which will take place this summer.

The second psychiatrist has offered to destroy the video after he completes his written report, but Samour ordered him to submit the recording along with his report, with copies to Samour, the defense and the prosecution. The report is due Oct. 15.

The evaluation is not the final word on whether Holmes was insane. Jurors will make that determination, but the evaluation is a key piece of the evidence they will consider.

If Holmes is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed to the state hospital indefinitely. If he's found guilty, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison.

No motive for the shootings has been revealed. Holmes' attorneys have acknowledged he was the shooter but say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode at the time.

The trial is scheduled to start Dec. 8.

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