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James Holmes: Suspect in Colorado theater massacre

James Holmes, a graduate student at the University of Colorado in Denver, is on trial for a mass shooting that occurred on July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver. Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured in the shooting.

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 (CNN) — The judge in James Holmes’ murder trial on Tuesday accepted his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The suspect in last summer’s shooting spree that killed 12 people and wounded dozens at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater will be taken to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for evaluation.

He’s expected to be returned to the Arapahoe County Jail on August 2.

Judge Carlos Samour Jr. has told attorneys he expects the trial to take place in 2014.

The burden is on the prosecution to prove that Holmes was sane at the time of the shootings. Attorneys will use the results of the mental evaluation as evidence at the trial.

Samour’s ruling Tuesday came about a month after Holmes’ attorneys asked to change his plea from a standard not guilty. The original not-guilty plea was entered by a judge on Holmes’ behalf in March, over his objection, his defense team said.

james holmes1

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

The defendant offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars if authorities would spare his life, but prosecutors in Arapahoe County announced in April they would seek the death penalty.

The defense then decided to make an insanity plea.

Asked by the judge Tuesday whether he had any questions about the plea, Holmes replied in a clear voice, “No.”

Samour also ruled Tuesday that a package Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist before the shooting can be processed as evidence.

He sent Dr. Lynne Fenton $400 in burned $20 bills, a sticky note with an infinity sign, and a spiral notebook containing a placard. Written on it: “James Holmes, Of Life,” according to court documents.

The defense had previously argued that the contents of the package is covered by doctor-patient confidentiality. But with an insanity plea, that confidentiality no longer applies.

Before the shooting, Fenton, who works at the University of Colorado’s medical campus, warned campus police that Holmes was dangerous.

Holmes faces murder and other charges in the July 20 shooting spree at the premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

james holmes1

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Centennial, Colorado (CNN) — Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes despite his offer last week to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding a death sentence.

“It is my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said.

Before reaching the decision, the district attorney said he spoke directly with dozens of victims’ family members.

Bryan Beard, whose close friend was killed in the massacre, said one thought ran through his mind when he heard the district attorney announce his decision in court: “Thank goodness. I am so happy this is happening.”

“The only way death will receive justice when somebody murders somebody else is death,” Beard told CNN Denver affiliate KMGH-TV during a break in Monday’s court proceedings. “I guess you fight fire with fire.”

Last week defense attorneys filed documents saying Holmes had offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Prosecutors took the defense to task for publicly offering it, saying they hadn’t been given enough information to even consider such a deal.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

Batman cinema shooter to plead guiltyAURORA, Colo. — Defense attorneys for James Holmes said Wednesday the Aurora movie theater shooting suspect is willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison in order to avoid the death penalty.

“Prior to arraignment, Mr. Holmes made an offer to the prosecution to resolve this case by pleading guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison, without any opportunity for parole,” Holmes’ attorneys wrote in an Arapahoe County court filing Wednesday.

james holmesCENTENNIAL, Colo.— A visibly annoyed judge ordered a not guilty plea for James E. Holmes, who is charged with the deadly Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, after his defense said they were not ready to enter a plea.

Wearing shackles and prison togs, Holmes was impassive in the Arapahoe County Court as he was arraigned on 166 criminal counts in connection with the shooting on July 20. The former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado-Denver is accused of opening fire in a packed movie theater during a midnight showing of  “The Dark Knight Rises,”  killing 12 and wounding about 70.

Prosecutors said they will announce on April 1 whether they will seek the death penalty. The trial is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 5 and is expected to last four weeks.

Judge William B. Sylvester entered the not guilty plea after the defense indicated it needed more time to prepare a plea for the man whose lawyers have already said was mentally ill. Relatives of the victims in the courtroom appeared to sigh when defense attorney Daniel King said it would take until May or June 1 for the defense to be ready to enter a plea because more work and mental evaluations were needed.

James Holmes

James E. Holmes, in a courtroom sketch, arrives for a preliminary hearing in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings. (Bill Robles / L.A. Times / Jan. 7, 2013)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. –  James E. Holmes will stand trial in the Aurora theater rampage that left 12 people dead and another 70 wounded, a Colorado judge ruled Thursday night.

Judge William Sylvester found enough evidence to bind the suspected gunman over for trial on 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges. Sylvester ordered that a previously scheduled Friday hearing be Holmes’ arraignment.

Defense attorneys have said he is mentally ill, leading to speculation that they will offer an insanity defense. But in a motion earlier Thursday, they said they were not ready to enter a plea. They are likely to ask for a continuance.

Holmes, 25, is accused of storming a theater July 20 during a post-midnight premier of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

A three-day preliminary hearing for the former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado-Denver wrapped up Wednesday.

– By Jenny Deam / Los Angeles Times

james holmesCentennial, Colorado (CNN) — So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.

This is the scene Aurora police Officer Justin Grizzle said he encountered moments after entering the theater where, according to authorities, 25-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people in a July 20 shooting rampage.

Grizzle testified Monday on the opening day of the preliminary hearing for Holmes, who is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.

The 13-year veteran wiped away tears while describing his efforts to rush badly wounded victims to the hospital in his police cruiser, including shooting victim Ashley Moser and her husband, who wanted Grizzle to turn around and head back to the theater.

“He was shot in the head somewhere. He kept asking where his … daughter was,” Grizzle said. “He opened the door and tried to jump out.

For the complete CNN story, go here.