Aurora theater shooting case: Judge delays change of plea hearing for James Holmes

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. - The advisement hearing for Aurora movie theater suspect James Holmes has been delayed four days, at the request of Holmes' defense team.

In their filed response, the prosecution did not object to the delay as long as the "issue of the waiver of privilege relating to the contents of the package sent to Dr. Fenton" is discussed at the new hearing.

The package and the notebook inside have been shielded from inspection under doctor-patient confidentiality so far, but the court's acceptance of a not guilty by reason of insanity plea could have an impact on that protection.

In his order granting the delay, Judge Carlos Samour said he is inclined to grant the request to discuss the package.

"If no objection is filed, the parties should be prepared to discuss the issue," Samour wrote. "Otherwise, the Court will rule on any objection submitted."

Holmes' defense has already tendered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but the judge needs to advise him on the consequences of that plea before accepting it.

The advisement hearing was scheduled for Friday, but the judge agreed to delay it so the attorneys could have time to review his rulings on their objections to portions of Colorado's insanity and death penalty statues.

Samour wrote in his ruling: "The court concludes that the defendant's constitutional challenges fail. The provisions in the insanity statutes and the death penalty statute challenged by the defendant are constitutional. Accordingly, the motions are now denied in their entirety."

If Holmes changes his plea, it will be the first official plea from Holmes' attorneys. A previous judge entered what he called a "standard not guilty" plea in March, after Holmes' attorneys said they were "not ethically prepared" to enter a plea.

"We are now ready, and we haven't been ready previously," defense attorney Daniel King said in court earlier this month about the change of plea request. "We have a diagnosis that is complete."

Holmes is charged with fatally shooting 12 people and injuring 70 others in an Aurora movie theater last July. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

Samour has scheduled Holmes' trial for February 3, 2014. Prosecutors suggested the trial might take three months; the defense team said it would likely take nine months. The judge scheduled the trial for four months.

Prosecutors announced in April that they plan to seek the death penalty if Holmes is convicted. District Attorney George Brauchler announced, "It is my determination and intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death."

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