CENTENNIAL, Colo. —
A not guilty by reason of insanity plea carries risk. Prosecutors would gain access to Holmes’ mental health records, which could help their case if the evidence of insanity is weak.
If Holmes does plead insanity, the proceedings would be prolonged further while he is evaluated by state mental health officials. With the judge entering the plea, prosecutors still don’t have access to Holmes’ health records.
During Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorney Daniel King said he could not advise Holmes on what plea to enter. He said the defense wasn’t ready despite previous delays — prompting prosecutors to object.
Sylvester asked King when Holmes might be ready to enter a plea.
“We could be ready by May 1. It may be June 1,” King said.
“So how am I supposed to make an informed decision?” Sylvester asked before entering the not guilty plea. He said the defense can always petition to change the plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.
At one point, in saying they weren’t ready to enter a plea, King said, “we have ongoing work scheduled. We’re doing the best that we can.” But he said he couldn’t reveal what the work was or say when it would be finished.
He did hint that the defense might have its own expert conducting a mental evaluation of Holmes. King said if they enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the court would order a mental evaluation and “whatever evaluations we’re doing would be truncated.”
If a jury agrees he was insane, Holmes would be committed indefinitely to a state mental hospital. There would be a remote and unlikely chance he could be freed one day if doctors find his sanity has been restored.
Prosecutors laid out a case that Holmes methodically planned the shooting for months, amassing an arsenal and elaborately booby-trapping his apartment to kill anyone who tried to enter.