The series of written opinions issued on Friday by Arapahoe County
District Court Judge Carlos Samour represented a setback and rebuke
to efforts by the defense to shield James Holmes from the
possibility of execution, if he is convicted.
Denying several defense motions seeking to challenge Colorado's
capital punishment and sentencing laws, Samour said most of the
issues raised by Holmes' lawyer were "frivolous" and had already
been litigated and resolved.
"To the extent the defendant wishes to change the current state of
the law in Colorado, his arguments should be directed to the
legislature or the Colorado Supreme Court," Samour wrote.
Holmes, 26, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder
and attempted murder charges stemming from the 2012 shooting rampage
at an Aurora, Colorado, cinema during a screening of a Batman movie
"The Dark Knight Rises."
Twelve moviegoers were killed in the rampage and 70 others were
Prosecutors said they intend to seek the death penalty for Holmes if
he is convicted.
Public defenders for Holmes have acknowledged that the one-time
neuroscience doctoral candidate was the lone gunman but that he
suffers from a chronic mental illness and was experiencing a
psychotic episode when he opened fire in the crowded cinema.
The California native underwent a psychiatric examination after
invoking the insanity defense, but the judge ordered a second
evaluation after finding the first report "incomplete and
Samour has directed that the second evaluation focus solely on
Holmes' mental state at the time of the shootings.
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Under a previous ruling by the judge accepting Holmes' insanity
plea, the burden is on prosecutors to convince a jury that the
defendant understood the difference between right and wrong when he
committed the crime.
Holmes already has been declared mentally competent to stand trial — capable of understanding the proceedings against him and to assist
in his own defense.
But the trial has been postponed twice while various legal issues
have been sorted out, and jury selection is now set to begin in
Samour said he was canceling further death-penalty hearings because
the written pleadings and briefs filed by attorneys from both sides
had produced an adequate record.
"While the court recognizes the seriousness of the charges filed and
the nature of the sentence sought by the prosecution, it declines to
hold hearings simply to indulge the parties or counsel," Samour
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; editing by Steve Gorman and Gunna
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