Tuesday 23 January 2018

Judge enters not guilty plea for Batman theatre accused

Accused Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes listens at his arraignment in Centennial, Colorado March 12, 2013.
Accused Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes listens at his arraignment in Centennial, Colorado March 12, 2013.

Keith Coffman

A Colorado judge presiding over the case of accused theater gunman James Holmes entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to charges he went on a shooting spree in a Denver suburb nearly eight months ago and killed 12 moviegoers.

Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester made the move after declining a defense request for a continuance. His lawyers said they were not ready to enter a plea.

Holmes faces multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the July 20 rampage that also wounded 58 people and was one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

"This matter has been pending since July 2012," Sylvester said. "I acquiesced to the defense and put off the date as long as we could."

Sylvester also scheduled a four-week trial for Holmes to begin on Aug. 5. Holmes, who has grown long hair and a beard since his arrest, glanced briefly at his parents as he entered the courtroom on Tuesday.

His lawyers were expected to mount an insanity defense for Holmes, 25, who surrendered to officers outside the theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora within minutes of the mass killing.

Prosecutors have depicted the former neuroscience graduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver as a young man whose once promising academic career was in tatters.

He failed graduate school oral board exams in June and one of his professors suggested he may not have been a good fit for his doctoral program, prosecutors said.

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said in court that his office would announce at some point during court hearings in the first week of April whether it will seek the death penalty for Holmes.

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