James Holmes, the 24-year-old man accused of opening fire inside an Aurora, Colorado theater early Friday morning, killing 12 and wounding 58, will soon begin psychiatric evaluations to find out if he is competent to stand trial.
WebPro News explains that this process is necessary, because if doctors determine that Holmes, who called himself “The Joker” was under extreme mental duress when he carried out the shootings, he could end up entering a “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea in response to the first-degree murder charge currently held against him.
According to Action News, Dale Carson, local defense attorney, believes that James Holmes’ courtroom conduct on Monday could be just an act. He stated:
“Remember he was at a movie in role play acting as if he were the Joker. So he’s into role play.”
Holmes’ behavior could mean several things though, which is what psych evaluators will attempts to uncover in the coming months. James Holmes, along with calling himself the Joker (which could indicate he was stuck in a delusion), also appeared dazed at times during the 11 minute hearing on Monday.
The alleged Dark Knight shooter also rolled his eyes at others and closed his eyelids at times while the judge was speaking. Jordan Ghawi, brother of Jessica Ghawi, who died in the shooting, agrees with Carson. Ghawi stated:
“He is a coward and a genius. He knows what he is doing. He is playing the system. I don’t believe for a second he is sitting there with his wide eyes and pretending to be incoherent.”
Before James Holmes’ attorney can enter an insanity plea, mental evaluations would have to prove this. Carson stated that:
“…the legal definition (of insanity) is the inability to know the difference between right and wrong. That’s the simple definition.”
Some courtroom viewers believed that James Holmes may have been medicated at the hearing, but jail officials refused a comment. WebPro News reports that, even if Holmes enters an insanity plea, Dr. Keith Ablow believes it is extremely unlikely that the jury would accept it. Ablow writes:
“Contrary to popular belief, defendants who are found not criminally responsible by virtue of a mental illness generally remain on locked psychiatry units for several decades–or for life. This has been the case, for example, for John Hinckley, Jr., the man who, in 1981, shot Ronald Reagan to impress actress Jodi Foster. He has remained an inpatient–with some passes to his family home–at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years.”
Until the next hearing, however, James Holmes will have to undergo several stints of extensive medical testing, as well as evaluations by a team of psychiatrists, in order to determine if he is fit to stand trial. It could take up to a year for the James Holmes case to go to trial for the Dark Knight shootings. If the judge decides that James Holmes is insane, however, he may decide to forego the trial completely and send him directly to a mental hospital.
Do you think that James Holmes, who told police that he was The Joker, is insane, or does he know exactly what he’s doing?
Check out more information about James Holmes in court here: