October 23, 2014 / 4:45 PM / 4 years ago

Prosecutors accept proposed trial delay for Colorado cinema gunman

DENVER (Reuters) - Prosecutors in the Colorado theater massacre case do not oppose a defense request to delay the murder trial of accused gunman James Holmes until early next year, court papers showed on Thursday.

James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colorado June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Cross/Pool

A ruling by the judge on whether to postpone the trial is pending.

Earlier this week, public defenders asked Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour to postpone the trial, which is set to begin in December, because they needed more time to review results of a second sanity examination.

Holmes, 26, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to shooting dead 12 moviegoers and wounding dozens more during a midnight screening of Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012.

His lawyers have conceded Holmes was the lone shooter, but said he was undergoing a psychotic episode.

Prosecutors have charged Holmes with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the shooting spree, and said they will seek the death penalty for the California native if he is convicted.

The onetime neuroscience doctoral candidate has undergone two mental examinations since invoking the insanity defense.

Samour ordered a second psychiatric evaluation after agreeing with prosecutors the first evaluation, conducted last year, was deficient. The second sanity exam involved 22 hours of videotaped interviews with Holmes, according to court papers.

The results of neither examination has been made public.

In their motion to continue the trial, defense lawyers said the second examination, which was completed last week, “raises significant new issues” that will require “extensive litigation.”

In their written response, prosecutors said the defense request is “reasonable” and suggested a trial date for the third week of January. Under Colorado law, prosecutors must prove a defendant was not insane at the time of the crime.

Both prosecutors and defense lawyers said they have not received from a state mental hospital that oversaw the testing all the underlying documentation surrounding the latest evaluation. Samour on Thursday ordered the hospital to produce the materials by next week, or explain why they might not be able to provide that information by that deadline.

Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric Walsh

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