James Holmes‘ attorneys admitted in a court document that he is responsible for the Aurora theater massacre that happened almost exactly a year ago.
While Holmes’ attorneys have never denied he was responsible, it was the first time they outright admitted the 35-year-old killed 12 people and wounded 58 others at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
But while the defense lawyers admitted their client is the theater shooter, they explained that he was in the “throes of a psychotic episode” at the time, notes NBC News.
James Holmes has already pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors have said that they will seek the death penalty if the former neuroscience student is convicted.
In the past, Holmes’ public defenders have announced that their client suffered from a mental illness, though they never specified what it was. Reuters adds that they have also said Holmes is willing to plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table. They have refused to do to.
The admission of responsibility came in a defense pleading that objected to a ruling requiring James Holmes to be tethered to the courtroom during his trial. Jurors will not be able to see it, but James Holmes would wear a harness under his clothes that is tethered to the floor.
In the motion, defense lawyers explained that Holmes is neither a security threat or a flight risk and has no prior criminal record. They added that the restraint prescribed by Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. was much like “leashing a mentally ill man.”
But in his reply, Samour explained that he will not allow a defendant who is charged with serious violent crimes to be unrestrained in court. He added, “There is nothing inhumane, undignified, or dehumanizing about the method of restraint.”
While his lawyers admitted in court filings that James Holmes was the Aurora theater shooter, it doesn’t appear that they will change how he is pleading. Holmes’ trial is set to begin in February 2014.