James Holmes defense files 89 motions containing requests and proposals for theater shooting case
Last Updated: 185 days ago
CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Eighty-nine filings containing requests and proposals from James Holmes' defense team open a window into their strategy for defending the movie theater shooting suspect.
Submitted before a deadline Monday afternoon, the documents were too voluminous to be posted that night. Instead they were released Tuesday morning as the attorneys and reporters were in the courtroom where Holmes' was formally entering his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and being advised of the consequences of that plea.
The filings are considered "non-capital" motions, meaning they don't pertain to issues surrounding the death penalty that prosecutors are pursuing. A deadline for the filing of those motions was set for Sept. 27, with capital motion hearing dates set for late November and early December.
"Most of the motions are things that we would expect to happen automatically. This is the defense's way of saying, 'We're not just going to guess that it's happening automatically, we're going to make sure it happens,'" said legal analyst David Beller. "They're not relying on the rule that says, 'We should have gotten it.' They're saying, 'Not only is there a rule, but there's also a court order saying that we should have gotten this piece of evidence.'"
7NEWS asked Beller if the number of motions filed is a way to drag out a case nearly 11 months old.
"I don't think it's a way to necessarily drag out the case. It is a way to make sure that the defense is dotting every 'I' and crossing every 'T.'"
The documents from the defense challenge witnesses, the admissibility of statements Holmes made and various pieces of evidence. Each of the 89 filings is accompanied by a request for a hearing in court and a notice that the district attorney will be submitting an objection.
"It's the defense attorneys' way of saying, 'The prosecution has to prove that these things can come in' as opposed to just everybody looking the other way and just shrugging," said Beller.
What follows is a summary of some of the more interesting documents. Note that the numbering of the documents starts with D-42, meaning that the 41 other motions in the case were those filed prior to Monday.
D-126 says Holmes was asked by officers outside the theater if he was alone, but was never read his Miranda rights. When he was later read those rights, the document says he asked how to get a lawyer and said he "wanted to 'invoke the Sixth Amendment.'"
D-101 asks the court to block testimony from an FBI "Cryptanalyst Forensic Examiner" named Melissa Adams, who was listed as a witness by the prosecution. The defense document reveals Adams examined a symbol found on a calendar in Holmes' apartment. The nature of the symbol is not described, but it is the second time a symbol has been mentioned in the public documents related to the case. The first was an infinity symbol on a sticky note inside the package sent to Holmes' psychiatrist.
D-98 requests the judge prohibit certain images from being shown to jurors. It says that "graphic images" of the victims' injuries and "deceased victims" are included in the evidence provided during the discovery phase. The defense asserts in their document that the photos are "likely to have the improper effects of offending the jurors, causing them trauma, evoking sympathy for the victim's families, arousing passion against Mr. Holmes and causing jurors to convict or impose a death sentence for constitutionally improper reasons."
D-94 argues that Holmes should be allowed to wear civilian clothing in trial. His attorneys assert that wearing a jail uniform in front of the jury would influence Holmes' presumption of innocence.
D-65 proposes that jurors assigned to the case be prohibited from possessing cellphones, laptops or other electronics during the course of the trial. The trial is scheduled to last four months, but the defense document says it "is likely to last even longer."
D-68 requests that the jury be sequestered, arguing that "is the only way of ensuring that the jurors will not be affected by media or other improper outside influences."
-- The full collection of documents is available online from the Colorado State Judicial Branch: Read them all at http://ch7ne.ws/ZMBGVm
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