Holmes' defense delays entering plea in movie theater shooting case

Holmes faces 166 counts, including murder

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - James Holmes' defense has delayed entering a plea for the 166 counts facing the accused movie theater shooter.

The prosecution said they were ready to proceed with the arraignment, but the judge granted the delay requested by the defense. The arraignment is scheduled for March 12.

Before granting the delay, Judge William Sylvester asked Holmes if it was what he wanted.

"Mr. Holmes, you have the right to a speedy trial within 60 days," he said.

Holmes never made eye contact with the judge, and paused for about 5 seconds before his attorney Tamara Brady stood up and said, "We have discussed this with him and he is in agreement."

When Sylvester explained his decision to allow the delay, he said it was because he didn't want an appeals court to find he did anything wrong.

Judge William Sylvester ruled Thursday that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to require James Holmes to stand trial for the July 20 shooting at the Century 16 theater that killed 12 people and injured 70 others. 

The ruling came after a three-day preliminary hearing conducted Monday through Wednesday.

When Judge Sylvester explained his decision to allow the delay, he said it was because he didn't want an appeals court to find he did anything wrong.

"So far, the court has, yesterday, ruled that there is probable cause, as you know, to hold these charges and hold the defendant for these charges for trial," said 18th Judicial Distract Attorney George Brauchler.

Brauchler said the court found enough evidence to hold James Holmes in custody without bond throughout the proceedings.

"Despite those findings by this court, the charges in this case that this office has brought remain mere accusations, and that the defendant is entitled to that presumption of innocence in our criminal justice process until such time that he is proven otherwise," said Brauchler.

Holmes faces 166 counts, including multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. The judge found probable cause for each of the counts.

As the gavel dropped Friday, an victim's father in the courtroom shouted "Rot in hell Holmes!" The court reconvened after a short break to deal with that outburst.

Yousef Gharbi, a 17-year-old shooting victim, said he was disappointed with the delay in the arraignment and Holmes entering a plea -- even though officials had prepared him for it.

"It's just a disappointment," Gharbie told 7NEWS reporter Amanda Kost. "You want to know what he's going to say, then you can start thinking what's further to come. But now my mind is set on pause."

Jessica Watts' cousin, Jonathan Blunk, was killed in the shooting.

Does she want prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Holmes or a sentence of life in prison?

"We don't plan to talk about that until after arraignment," Watts said. "That's something that they want to give us time personally to reflect on before we give our own personal opinions."

Kost asked Watts if she's preparing for the possibility that Holmes may enter an insanity plea.

"I definitely do not think that he is insane," Watt said. "I think that he is absolutely just evil."

Prosecutors started contacting victims and their families at 6 p.m. Thursday to let them know the defense was requesting a delay in the arraignment.  

Prosecutors said 84 people objected to the continuance, six had no position and three did not object.

The sprawling, complex investigation has involved more than 1,000 law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics and 28 agencies, officials said.

The court case has generated 30,879 pages of discovery records, along with 358 discs, 220 DVDs, 156 CDs and two Blu-ray discs, prosecutors said.

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