The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 21, 2013

Shooting trial postponed over sanity concern

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The judge in the Colorado theater shootings case on Thursday indefinitely postponed the trial of James Holmes so attorneys can argue whether he should undergo further psychiatric evaluation.

Holmes’ trial had been scheduled to begin with jury selection in February.

Holmes, 25, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring of 70 during a packed midnight showing of a Batman film at a suburban Denver theater in July 2012.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes underwent a mandatory sanity evaluation at the state hospital last summer. The results haven’t been made public, but prosecutors said Thursday they want a review of one of three conclusions. They did not elaborate, and both sides are barred from speaking about the case outside court.

Karen Steinhauser, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said most court-ordered sanity evaluations look at whether the defendant is mentally competent to stand trial; has an impaired mental condition or mental illness; and was insane at the time of the crime.

Colorado law defines insanity as the inability to tell right from wrong, so a defendant could have a mental illness but still be legally sane.

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