CENTENNIAL, Colo. - The judge in the Aurora theater shootings has ruled that a second mental health examination can occur to gauge the sanity of defendant James Holmes on the day of the attack.
According to court documents, the judge concluded that the first evaluation of Holmes conducted by the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo was incomplete and inadequate.
The judge granted prosecutors' request for a second evaluation but said it should be done by another doctor at the state hospital, not by doctors chosen by the prosecutors, no later than March 10.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 attack. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
If jurors eventually decide Holmes was insane, he would be acquitted of the crimes and committed indefinitely to the state hospital. If they decide he was sane, he could be convicted and sentenced either to be executed or spend life in prison without parole.
Holmes' attorneys acknowledged that he was the shooter. The case now hinges on whether he was insane.
The judge says second mental exam has to be completed by July 11, possibly delaying the trail until this summer.
Veteran defense attorney Dan Recht says the judge’s order calling for another exam is extremely rare.
"It's highly unusual a judge would issue a new sanity evaluation,” said Recht. "I've not seen it happen in my practice."
-- Stunning, yet secret --
The 51-page document doesn't say if a state doctor found shooter James Holmes sane or insane following the first exam.
In fact, the specific details prompting this order have been removed by the clerk,
Yet the judge felt the mental health exam conducted by a state doctor “ is incomplete and inadequate.”
"There was four days of testimony. The judge was presented plenty of evidence for his ruling, but all of that again is blacked out,” noted Recht.
The first exam may be used as evidence in court, in addition to the second evaluation said Recht.