Judge overseeing Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes case says statutes constitutional
Holmes could enter plea next week
Last Updated: 277 days ago
AURORA, Colo. - The judge overseeing the case of the Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes issued a ruling Friday that said the insanity statutes being questioned by the defense are constitutional.
However, the judge did agree with the defense that if Holmes decides to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, the court should advise Holmes of the consequences.
Holmes is charged with 166 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and explosives charges in the July 20 Aurora theater shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 70.
Last week, Holmes' defense attorneys filed a motion indicating their client might plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but asked for a clarification of state law from Judge William Sylvester.
Holmes' attorneys wanted the judge to declare portions of the state's insanity defense laws unconstitutional.
The filings said the laws in which a defendant may waive his or her right to remain silent and reveal confidential medical information should be unconstitutional in cases involving the possibility of execution.
His attorneys also said not knowing whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty directly impacts what type of plea to enter at the March 12 arraignment or what type of defense to use.
Earlier this week, prosecutors filed a response stating that there were no constitutional issues. The judge agreed.
"The Court has examined, as a question of law, Defendant's argument that the Statutes are unconstitutional," Judge William Blair Sylvester wrote in his decision. "The Court notes that the appellate courts consistently have upheld parts or versions of the Statutes. The Court FINDS that Defendant has not proved that the Statutes are unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt and that any conflict between the Statutes and the constitution is clear and unmistakable."
Sylvester did grant, in part, defendant's motion D-30 saying, "with respect to Defendant's request that this Court advise him of the consequences of pleading Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity."
Sources told ABC News on Thursday night that the judge had largely ruled against Holmes' legal team.
7NEWS asked legal analyst David Beller what that could mean.
"The judge has responded, 'I'm not going to analyze these statutes nor am I going to declare them unconstitutional,'" said Beller.
ABC News reported late Thursday night that Holmes is expected to enter a plea at Tuesday's hearing.
Beller warned that it's still possible the defense may ask for the arraignment to be continued.
"On (March) 12th, we may certainly hear, 'Judge, we just need more time in order to know what plea to enter,'" said Beller. "The defense could certainly say, 'We just don't yet whether or not he is, in fact, insane.'"
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