Lawyers for James Holmes have finally entered an official plea in the case: they're going going to mount a "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense, The Denver Post reports.Holmes is facing 166 charges of murder and attempted murder for killing 12 people and injuring 58 others when he attacked an opening night showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado.
Initially the defense was unsure whether they were going to mount an insanity defense or not, so a judge bought them more time by entering an automatic not guilty plea. The defense tried to bargain with the prosecution by offering an easy guilty plea on the condition the death penalty be taken off the table, but the prosecution promptly rejected that idea. Then, the prosecution announced they would pursue the death penalty as their preferred punishment for Holmes, setting them up for an uphill battle against the insanity defense.
As we've explained before, Colorado's insanity defense laws are different from most states. In most states the defense must prove their client to be insane. But in Colorado, the script is flipped. The prosecution must prove Holmes is not insane. Before the shooting, Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist and told campus authorities he was dangerous. He sent her a notebook full of terrible imagery before the shooting occurred.
Entering a plea moves this case one step closer to trial, with the next court date set for August 5 assuming neither side requests a delay.