CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) - A computer belonging to accused gunman James Holmes, who claims he was insane when he shot dead 12 Colorado moviegoers last year, contained an internet search for the term “rational insanity,” a police officer testified on Thursday.
The revelation came during testimony by Aurora Police Detective Michael Leiker at an evidentiary hearing for Holmes, who faces possible execution if convicted of the rampage that also left 70 others wounded or injured.
However, Leiker said he could not say for certain that the onetime University of Colorado neuroscience graduate student was the one who entered the search term, its context, or when it was done.
Thursday’s hearing centered on a defense motion to bar Leiker and others who extracted data from Holmes’ computers, smartphones and other devices from testifying at the murder trial, which is scheduled to begin in February.
“Admission of unreliable evidence and opinion testimony would not only violate the rules of evidence but also Mr. Holmes’ constitutional right to due process of law under the state and federal constitutions,” his public defenders said in a written motion.
Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire in a suburban Denver cinema last July during a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The California native has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his lawyers have said in court filings that their client was “in the throes of a psychotic episode” when he went on the rampage.
Under Colorado law, prosecutors must prove a defendant who invokes an insanity defense was not insane at the time of the crime.
Holmes underwent a court-ordered sanity examination over the summer, but the results have not been made public.
Shackled and unshaven, Holmes was more animated on Thursday than he has been in previous hearings, smiling as he talked with one of his lawyers in the courtroom.
Arapahoe District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said at an earlier hearing that court staff will mail out jury summonses to 6,000 county residents.
The judge also said in an order this week that prospective jurors should expect to serve from six to eight months, and jury selection alone could take up to three months.
Another series of pretrial hearings are scheduled to resume next week.
Editing by Tim Gaynor and Eric Walsh