DENVER (Reuters) — Public defenders representing
accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes will return to court on
Friday to challenge evidence based on the crime scene analysis from the cineplex where 12 moviegoers were killed.
Holmes, 26, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder
and attempted murder for opening fire inside a suburban Denver
cinema during a screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises"
in July 2012.
The mass shooting left 12 people dead and 70 wounded by bullets or
otherwise injured in the melee. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by
reason of insanity, and prosecutors said they will seek the death
penalty if he is convicted.
The hearing in Arapahoe County District Court on Friday centers on
proposed testimony by crime scene experts who prosecutors intend to
call at trial.
"Mr. Holmes objects to the admission of any and all opinion
testimony concerning crime scene reconstruction, including ... any
blood spatter analysis and bullet trajectory analysis that the
prosecution intends to introduce at trial through any 'expert'
witness," his attorneys said in court papers.
Holmes' attorneys argue such testimony is unreliable.
The proceeding follows four days of closed-door hearings held this
week on whether Holmes should undergo a further sanity examination.
Defense lawyers have conceded that Holmes was the sole gunman, but
have said he was in the midst of a "psychotic episode" when he went
on the shooting spree.
They also said in court filings that Holmes suffers from a "chronic
and serious mental illness" and should not face the death penalty
should a jury convict him.
After invoking the insanity plea, the former neuroscience graduate
student underwent a court-ordered sanity examination last summer.
Conclusions reached by evaluators have not been made public, but in
November prosecutors sought to have Holmes undergo an additional
evaluation by their experts.
The murder trial was set to begin next month, but was postponed
indefinitely by Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour
after prosecutors filed the request.
In ordering this week's sanity hearings closed to the public, Samour
said dissemination of testimony about the sanity evaluations would
jeopardize Holmes' right to a fair trial.
"The information that will be discussed at this hearing goes to the
heart of the case," Samour said.
It is unknown when he will rule on the prosecution request.