May 7, 2013 / 9:26 PM / in 5 years

Insanity defense for accused Colorado theater gunman

DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado theater gunman James Holmes, who could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering 12 moviegoers in a July rampage, intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, court records released on Tuesday show.

Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire inside an Aurora, Colorado, cinema during a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” The rampage killed 12 people and wounded 70 others.

The court filing by Holmes’ public defenders said he “intends to tender a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity” under Colorado state law at a hearing on May 13.

Holmes’ attorneys had hinted in previous court filings that they would pursue such a defense. Neither prosecutors or attorneys for Holmes have publicly commented on the case due to a gag order imposed by a judge.

The judge overseeing the case in March entered a standard not guilty plea for Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, but said public defenders could change that to not guilty by reason of insanity if they showed sufficient cause.

Reporting by Keith Coffman; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Tim Dobbyn

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