in Colorado theater massacre case appoints new sanity evaluator
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[March 12, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) — A judge overseeing the
Colorado movie theater massacre case appointed an evaluator on Tuesday
to conduct a second sanity examination of accused gunman James Holmes
after earlier ruling a first evaluation to be "incomplete and
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour, in a written
ruling, approved the selection by the state mental hospital of the
new examiner, whose name was redacted in the order.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder and
attempted murder charges linked to the 2012 shooting during a
viewing of a Batman film in a suburban Denver cinema that killed 12
moviegoers and injured 70 others. Prosecutors said they will seek
the death penalty if Holmes is convicted.
Defense lawyers concede that the 26-year-old former neuroscience
doctoral student was the sole gunman, but said he suffers from a
chronic mental illness and was psychotic at the time of the rampage.
After invoking the insanity defense, Holmes underwent a first sanity
examination last summer. It was disclosed in court in December that
the exam concluded Holmes was mentally fit, or competent, to stand
trial, meaning he was capable of understanding the proceedings and
assisting in his defense.
The original exam's finding as to his sanity at the time of the
massacre has not been publicly revealed, but prosecutors sought the
second evaluation after what they said were "numerous deficiencies"
in the report by forensic psychiatrist Jeffrey Metzner.
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Samour agreed with prosecutors and ordered the second evaluation
following a series of closed-door hearings in January. The second
evaluation must be submitted to the court by July 11, Samour ruled.
The second court-ordered exam will focus on Holmes' state of mind at
the time of the killings, not on his competency to stand trial. The
trial date has been postponed twice as legal issues have been
litigated, and is now set to begin on October 14.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and G. Crosse)
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