Lawyers: James Holmes could withdraw insanity plea

By: The Associated Press
June 13, 2013 Updated: June 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm

DENVER — Lawyers for Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes say they might withdraw his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity after they see the results of his mental evaluation.

The defense made the statement in a motion filed Tuesday. The motion did not say what plea Holmes would enter if he decides to change, but their only other choices are guilty or not guilty, said attorney Dan Recht, a past president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

Nor did the motion indicate what kind of a result would cause the defense to drop the insanity plea, but presumably it would be a finding that he was sane.

Holmes is accused of opening fire in a crowded Denver-area movie theater in July, killing 12 and injuring 70. He is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Colorado's law on the insanity plea requires Holmes to undergo the evaluation before his trial, which is scheduled to start Feb. 3.

Recht, who is not working on Holmes' case, said the defense might be skeptical about the objectivity of the psychiatrist and psychologists who will evaluate Holmes because they are employed by the state, as are the prosecutors who want to see Holmes executed.

"The defense team is trying to save Mr. Holmes' life and is seemingly worried that this state hospital evaluation will not be objective and will be very harmful to Mr. Holmes," he said.

The possible change of plea was disclosed in a motion by defense lawyers saying they should get to see the report on Holmes' evaluation before prosecutors do.

They said if Holmes decided to change his plea, prosecutors should not get the report because they had no need of it.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. denied the request Thursday.

Samour said if Holmes does change his plea, the defense could submit new motions about the use of the evaluation report.


Follow Dan Elliott at

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