Judge says insanity statutes are constitutional, denies motions by James Holmes' defense

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A judge has found Colorado's insanity and death penalty statutes are constitutional, despite challenges by accused theater shooter James Holmes' lawyers.

Holmes' defense team had indicated a desire to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but first wanted a ruling on their objections to the repercussions of that plea.

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.

The defense was concerned about a rule that would limit their ability to present expert testimony about Holmes' mental health at the sentencing phase of his trial, which would follow a conviction.

In Colorado, the same jurors hear and deliberate on the guilt and sentencing phases of a trial.

In particular, lawyers for the suspect asserted that they should be allowed to present expert testimony about Holmes' mental health, even if he doesn't cooperate with a state examination. They argued it is unconstitutional to exclude such testimony even if Holmes refuses to cooperate with the state's examination.

District Court Judge Carlos Samour writes on the third page of his Wednesday 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."

The judge's order confirms that refusing examinations at the state mental hospital would be considered uncooperative and would result in limitations to testimony in a sentencing hearing.

The judge did write, however, that a narcoanalytic examination (one involving truth serum) may not be conducted without an order from the court.

The order also allows the defense to request a delay of the hearing scheduled for Friday, if they need more time to consider their next move. If they file a document requesting the delay, the hearing would be moved to Tuesday.

-- Read the judge's order: http://ch7ne.ws/10AGf3I

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