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Colorado shooting suspect faces charges today
2012-07-30 11:30:42 | (0 Comments)
(AP) — Launching a case that legal analysts expect to be dominated by arguments over the defendant's sanity, Colorado prosecutors planned to file formal charges today against James Eagan Holmes, the former neuroscience student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others at an Aurora movie theater.
Unlike Holmes' first court appearance July 23, today's hearing was not televised. At the request of the defense, District Chief Judge William Sylvester barred video and still cameras from the hearing, saying expanded coverage could interfere with Holmes' right to a fair trial.
Last week, Sylvester allowed a live video feed that permitted the world its first glimpse of the shooting suspect. With an unruly mop of orange hair, Holmes appeared bleary-eyed and distracted. He did not speak.
Attorneys also were arguing over a defense motion to find out who leaked information to the news media about a package the 24-year-old Holmes allegedly sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Denver.
Authorities seized the package July 23, three days after the shooting, after finding it in the mailroom of the medical campus where Holmes studied.
Several media outlets reported that it contained a notebook with descriptions of an attack, but Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said in court papers that the parcel hadn't been opened by the time the "inaccurate" news reports appeared.
Security was tight for Monday's hearing. Armed officers were stationed on the roof of both buildings at the court complex, and law enforcement vehicles blocked entrances to the buildings.
Investigators said Holmes began stockpiling gear for his assault four months ago and bought his weapons in May and June, well before the shooting spree just after midnight during a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises." He was arrested by police outside the theater.
Analysts said that means it's likely there's only one main point of legal dispute between prosecutors and the defense.
Under Colorado law, defendants are not legally liable for their acts if their minds are so "diseased" that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
However, the law warns that "care should be taken not to confuse such mental disease or defect with moral obliquity, mental depravity, or passion growing out of anger, revenge, hatred, or other motives, and kindred evil conditions."
Experts said there are two levels of insanity defenses.
Holmes' public defenders could argue he is not mentally competent to stand trial, which is the argument by lawyers for Jared Loughner, who is accused of killing six people in 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, and wounding several others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner, who has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is undergoing treatment at a Missouri prison facility in a bid to make him mentally fit to stand trial.
If Holmes' attorneys cannot convince the court that he is mentally incompetent, and he is convicted, they can try to stave off a possible death penalty by arguing he is mentally ill. Prosecutors will decide whether to seek the death penalty in the coming weeks.
Holmes was not expected to enter pleas on Monday.
Source: The Gleaner/Power 106 News
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