Judge enters not guilty plea for Aurora suspect
The judge in the deadly Colorado cinema shooting case entered a not guilty plea on behalf of James Holmes after the former graduate student's defence team said he was not ready to enter one.
If Holmes is convicted, he could be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison. Judge William Sylvester said yesterday that Holmes (25) can change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity later, if he chooses.
Such a change could be the only way Holmes could avoid life in prison or execution. Prosecutors have not said yet whether they will pursue the death penalty, announcing yesterday that they will make their decision known on April 1.
Holmes is charged with 166 counts, mostly murder and attempted murder, in the July 20 attack on moviegoers at a midnight showing of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in the Denver suburb of Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70. The brutal killings were one of a string of public mass killings last year that launched a fierce national debate over gun control.
The judge set August 5 for the trial. Prosecutors and defence attorneys declined to comment.
As he has done in past hearings, Holmes sat silently throughout the courtroom proceedings. He wore a red jail jumpsuit and sported a thick, bushy beard and unkempt dark brown hair.
When he walked into the courtroom, he looked at his parents, James and Arlene Holmes. They sat silently at the front of the room and left without comment after the hearing.
In the nearly eight months since Holmes first shuffled into court with vacant eyes and reddish-orange hair, neither he nor his lawyers have indicated how he would plead.