CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Prosecutors in the James Holmes Aurora theater mass-shooting case have filed their response to a defense motion to allow Holmes to plead guilty, if the death penalty is taken off the table.
On Wednesday, Holmes' lawyers filed a motion that claimed their defendant is willing to accept life in prison without any opportunity for parole. It also said that such an offer was made before Holmes' arraignment, where a judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
"There is not - and has never been - an actual or unqualified 'offer' to plead guilty without response by the People as has been misstated in the Notice," the prosecution's response said.
Their response indicates prosecutors believe the defense offer of a guilty plea is a ploy.
"The people question whether this language was included in the Defense Notice in good faith, or whether it was a calculated attempt to improperly inject the issue of the purported defense 'offer' into the public discourse regarding this case," prosecutors said in their response Thursday.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others during a July 20 shooting at the Aurora Century 16 Theater during a premier of the latest Batman movie. Holmes was arrested outside the theater and faces 166 counts in the high-profile case.
The document from Holmes' lawyers claimed their defendant is "currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved."
Prosecutors said, "the circumstances surrounding the filing of the Notice indicate that it was filed for the intended purpose of generating the predictable pretrial publicity that occurred yesterday."
The prosecution writes the paperwork from the defense is "unprecedented" because it tries to get the court involved with the negotiation of a plea deal. The prosecution goes on to say that Colorado law dictates the court cannot be involved in plea negotiations.
According to the defense papers, the offer was made before Holmes March 12 arraignment in which a judge entered a "not guilty" plea for their defendant. The prosecution acknowledges awareness of such an offer, but says they never got needed information at the time.
"While the defense suggested that the defendant be allowed to plead guilty on his terms, the prosecution indicated that it could not even consider such an offer without specific additional information, which the defense refused to provide," prosecutors wrote in their response Thursday.
The specific information they wanted is never clarified, but it described as information that "would allow them to fully assess the Defendant and his alleged acts for purposes of determining a just outcome."
The defense's filing was "improper," prosecutors wrote. The state compares it to the information leak the defense alleges prompted a Fox News reporter's article about the undisclosed content of the package James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist.
The defense requested sanctions against the government for that leak in a motion on October 2, designated D-017. That has led to several other motions and court orders, including the order that demands the reporter appear to testify on Monday about her sources.
"The improper conduct by the agents of the defendant in filing the improper Notice and speaking to the Associated Press in direct contravention of this Court's Amended Order is similar to the type of conduct that the defendant asserts, in Motion D-017, was improperly made by an alleged law enforcement source," says the final paragraph of Thursday's filing. "The People thus request that this Court summarily deny Motion D-017 and vacate and hearings set on that matter."