KUSA - Attorneys representing the Aurora theater shooter James Holmes say they have an expert who says the suspect is and was mentally ill when he he killed 12 people and injured dozens of others in the July 2012 shooting. His defense team formally asked the judge to change Holmes' plea from "not guilty" to "not guilty by reason of insanity."
The Aurora theater shooting suspect appeared in court Monday morning to request to change his plea to "not guilty by reason of insanity."
Last week, court filings showed that James Holmes wanted to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. A judge in the case previously entered a standard not-guilty plea for the suspect.
On Monday, the defense team came out and said they wanted to officially change the plea. The judge asked if the defense had "good cause to file a change" of plea. The defense said they did.
The prosecution argued that the defense took too long to change the plea. The team pointed out it's been 294 days since the defense was appointed and 62 days since the arraignment in March.
The defense team countered that point by saying "Mr. Holmes' mental illness hasn't changed in the last 60 days. No mental expert worth their salt will render an opinion until they have a chance to review all the material."
Prosecution raised the point that there are 40,000 pages of discovery to weed through in the case.
The judge said he would consider arguments the defense has raised about Colorado's insanity law.
"I think allowing Holmes to change a plea is consistent with the fairness and justice," Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said.
He's expected to decide whether to accept a new plea sometime before a May 31, 2 p.m. hearing. At that point, in the May 31 hearing, the judge will read the advisement to Holmes.
Holmes is charged with murder and attempted murder in the July 20 attack in Aurora that killed 12 and injured 70.
Holmes had bushy hair and a beard at Monday's hearing. He didn't speak at all.
With the new plea, Holmes would be sent to a state mental hospital. Also, if the new plea is accepted, it could change the fate of the notebook Holmes allegedly sent to his psychiatrist before the shootings. It could open all interviews with other experts and his mental illness history to the court. Up to this point, the defense has argued the notebook contained privileged material. The fate of the notebook will not be determined until the hearings planned for June.
If doctors determine he was insane at the time of the shooting - a jury could still find him guilty.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)