A judge entered a plea of “not guilty” for James Holmes this morning as the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting suspect appeared in court in Arapahoe County.
The not guilty plea for James Holmes comes after lawyers for the suspected shooter indicated that their client was not yet ready to enter a plea in the 166 count case. In Arapahoe County Court, Judge William Sylvester entered the plea on Holmes’ behalf despite the objections of his attorneys, noting that Holmes could later change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity if he so chooses.
As James Holmes’ not guilty plea is entered, the clock is ticking for prosecutors to decide whether or not to seek the death penalty in the mass shooting spree that killed 12 and wounded many more at a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises eight months ago.
PolicyMic explains that prosecutors have so far said “Holmes methodically planned the shooting for months, amassing an arsenal and elaborately booby-trapping his apartment to kill anyone who tried to enter,” adding that “on the night of the attack, they say, he donned a police-style helmet, gas mask and body armor, tossed a gas canister into the seats and then opened fire.”
Evidence so far presented before Holmes’ not guilty plea was entered may make it difficult to avoid a capital case should the defendant’s lawyers not pursue an insanity defense.
Of the current status of the Aurora shooting trial, Denver deputy district attorney Craig Silverman says that proving the converse may be a daunting task for the prosecution:
“Was he suffering from a mental disease or defect that rendered him incapable from distinguishing right from wrong? If the defense had to prove that, that would be one thing, but here in Colorado the prosecution has to disprove it. To prove sanity beyond a reasonable doubt with James Holmes could be tough.”
James Holmes will face questioning under the influence of a sedating medication called “truth serum” in media reports.