Judge Rebuffs Death Penalty Challenges In Theater Massacre Case
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[May 31, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado judge
overseeing the murder case against the gunman charged with killing 12
moviegoers has denied the latest efforts by defense lawyers to have the
state’s death penalty law ruled unconstitutional, court documents show.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour said on Friday
the issues raised in three separate motions filed by lawyers for
James Holmes about the lack of a grand jury indictment have already
been litigated, and the law has been upheld by both state and
federal higher courts.
Holmes, 26, is accused of murder and attempted murder for opening
fire in a suburban Denver cinema in July 2012, killing 12 moviegoers
and injuring 70 during a screening of the Batman film “The Dark
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers
have acknowledged he was the sole gunman, but they say the onetime
neuroscience graduate student suffers from a chronic mental illness.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if he is
convicted. Public defenders have filed a flurry of motions seeking
to have Colorado’s death penalty law declared unconstitutional, all
rejected by Samour.
The latest challenges centered on three different theories for why,
because a grand jury indictment was not handed down against Holmes,
he should not be executed.
Holmes's attorneys argued not obtaining a grand jury indictment in
the death penalty case violates two separate sections of the U.S.
Constitution and also the Colorado constitution, but the judge
rejected those arguments.
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“Because the defendant’s motion is directly contradicted by
precedent from the United States Supreme Court and the Colorado
Supreme Court, it fails,” Samour wrote in one of the orders.
“Accordingly, it is denied without a hearing as devoid of merit.”
The trial is set to begin in October.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Mohammad Zargham)
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