for Colorado theater gunman oppose videotaping sanity exam
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[July 12, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - Attorneys for an
accused mass murderer who claims he was insane when he shot 12
moviegoers to death at a Colorado cinema two years ago oppose the
videotaping of their client as he undergoes a new psychiatric
examination, court records show.
Lawyers defending James Holmes argued in a motion filed on Friday
that they were not notified that the latest sanity exam sessions
would be recorded and insisted the taping could violate his
constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Holmes, 26, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder
and attempted murder for opening fire inside a suburban Denver movie
theater during a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark
Knight Rises” in July 2012.
The shooting rampage killed 12 people and left dozens of others
wounded, and prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for
the Southern California native if he is convicted.
Defense lawyers have conceded that Holmes, who has pleaded not
guilty by reason of insanity, committed the shootings, but they say
he suffers from a chronic mental illness and was experiencing a
psychotic episode at the time of the massacre.
In Friday’s motion, public defenders argued that Holmes was not
informed that as a consequence of an insanity plea he could be
subjected to a videotaped examination, and there is no provision in
Colorado law for the procedure.
Additionally, they argued, the presence of a camera could affect the
“integrity” of the psychiatric testing because it will record
Holmes’ demeanor, expressions and body language.
“These nonverbal communications are testimonial acts, as they have
the potential to give rise to incriminating inferences,” the motion
Prosecutors have not formally responded to the motion, but Arapahoe
County District Court Judge Carlos Samour ordered a hold placed on
the examination until a hearing on the issue is held sometime next
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Legal maneuvering over sanity examinations has prompted Samour to
twice postpone the murder trial for the onetime neuroscience
After invoking the insanity defense, Holmes underwent a
court-mandated mental evaluation last year, but the results of that
first exam have not been made public.
In February Samour ordered a second examination, siding with
prosecutors who argued the first one was “incomplete and
Earlier this week, the state hospital overseeing Holmes’ latest exam
wrote to the judge, saying the second round of testing could not be
completed in time for jury selection to begin as scheduled in
October, prompting Samour to postpone the trial again. No new trial
date has been set.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman and
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