Judge rejects Holmes' challenge to insanity law in movie theater shooting


DENVER (AP) — Colorado's laws on insanity pleas and the death penalty are constitutional, a judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting a key argument by lawyers for the defendant in the deadly movie theater shootings.

Attorneys for James Holmes contended the laws could work in combination to potentially cripple the insanity defense if the case ever gets to a jury. They wanted Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. to address their concerns before Holmes formally enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Wednesday's ruling could clear the way for Samour to accept Holmes' insanity plea at a hearing scheduled for Friday. But the defense could ask the state Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, further delaying the case.

Holmes' lawyers will likely consult with attorneys who specialize in appeals before deciding, said Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor now in private practice who is not part of Holmes' defense team.

Holmes is accused of opening fire on a packed movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora in July, killing 12 people and injuring 70. He faces multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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