The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 11, 2013

Judge delays arraignment in Colo. theater shooting

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A judge on Friday delayed the arraignment of the man charged with the Colorado theater shooting until March despite objections from prosecutors and most of the victims and their families.

District Judge William Sylvester ruled Thursday night that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence at a preliminary hearing to proceed toward trial on charges that James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a suburban Denver movie theater on July 20.

Holmes, who is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder, won’t have to enter a plea until March 12 after the judge granted a defense motion to delay that proceeding.

A murmur of disbelief rippled through the courtroom when the defense said it wouldn’t be ready until March. Then, at the end of the hearing, the father of Rebecca Wingo, who was killed in the shooting, shouted “Rot in hell Holmes.”

The judge reconvened the proceeding to talk to Steve Hernandez, who apologized and promised there would be no more outbursts. The judge was sympathetic.

“I am terribly sorry for your loss and I can only begin to imagine the emotions that are raging,” Sylvester told him.

Sylvester had asked Holmes if he objected to the delay and defense attorney Tamara Brady answered for him, saying he did not. Defense lawyers didn’t say why they wanted to delay entering a plea.

One possible reason could be to seek a mental health evaluation by a doctor of their choosing. Lawyers for Holmes have said he is mentally ill, raising the possibility of an insanity defense.

If Holmes had entered an insanity plea on Friday, an evaluation would be done by state doctors.

Prosecutors objected to the delay and said they were ready to move ahead.

Sylvester said he understood their position but wanted to make sure he did not do anything that could lay the grounds for an appeal.

“We want to avoid at all costs doing anything improper,” the judge said.

Following the hearing, District Attorney George Brauchler, who took office this week, didn’t specifically address the delay  but said he wanted to “protect the interests of all involved in this case.”

If Holmes, 25, is convicted of first-degree murder, he could face the death penalty. Prosecutors have not said whether they would pursue that sentence.

The hearing capped an emotional week in which the public, including victims and their families, got the first look at evidence gathered against Holmes and heard police officers describe attempts to save the wounded.

During the preliminary hearing, witnesses testified that Holmes spent weeks amassing an arsenal and planning the attack at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” and that he took photos of himself hours before the shooting, including one that showed him grinning with a handgun.

They also detailed an elaborate booby trap set up at Holmes’ apartment designed to explode at the same time the theater attack occurred several miles away.

Prosecution witnesses testified that Holmes began acquiring weapons in early May, and by July 6 he had two semi-automatic pistols, a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle, 6,200 rounds of ammunition and high-capacity magazines that allow a shooter to fire more rounds without stopping to reload.

Holmes’ lawyers called no witnesses during the hearing.

Another possibility in the case is that either side could argue that Holmes is not mentally capable of assisting in his own defense. If that happens, the judge would order a mental competency evaluation. Sylvester also can order an evaluation if he has his own questions about Holmes’ competence.

In the case of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting that killed six people and wounded 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Jared Loughner was initially ruled incompetent to stand trial. However, after a year of treatment, Loughner was ruled competent, the case proceeded, and he entered guilty pleas.

If Holmes ends up pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Sylvester would also order a psychiatric evaluation by doctors at the state hospital. A jury would consider that evaluation, along with testimony by expert witnesses, any other court-ordered evaluations and other evidence, in deciding at a trial whether Holmes is or is not guilty by reason of insanity.

If found not guilty by reason of insanity, Holmes would be committed to the state mental hospital for treatment. His case would be reviewed every six months. He conceivably could be released if he ever is deemed no longer insane.

“Insanity is what this case is going to turn on,” said Denver criminal defense attorney Dan Recht. “This is not a whodunit case.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

  • Veteran's Ducks Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks

    An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stacked Apartment.jpg New York building shows how mod design stacks up as cool

    In a city piled high with ambitious architecture, a seven-floor structure off the beaten path boasts a distinction of its own: It’s billed as the first multistory, modular-built apartment building to open in the nation’s apartment capital.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

    The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

    July 21, 2014

  • Traditional lottery games hold their own

    Ohio’s traditional lottery games are mostly doing well despite competition from their electronic counterparts at four racinos.

    July 20, 2014

  • HIV diagnosis rate fell by third in U.S. over decade

    The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the United States each year fell by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts celebrated it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing in the U.S.

    July 20, 2014

  • Suddenly, the sun is eerily quiet: Where did the sunspots go?

    The sun has gone quiet. Almost too quiet.

    July 20, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.

    July 19, 2014

  • Israeli bulldozers destroy Hamas tunnels in Gaza

     Israeli bulldozers on Saturday demolished more than a dozen tunnels the military said were being used by Hamas gunmen to sneak beneath the southern border of the Jewish state and carry out attacks on its soldiers and civilians.

    July 19, 2014

  • Credible probe sought in downing of Malaysian jet

    World leaders demanded Friday that pro-Russia rebels who control the eastern Ukraine crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 give immediate, unfettered access to independent investigators to determine who shot down the plane.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video