Colo. massacre suspect's plea offer rejected

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 29, 2013 at 3:20 am •  Published: March 29, 2013
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DENVER (AP) — Prosecutors in the Colorado theater massacre case have rejected an offer from suspect James Holmes to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, saying the proposal can't be considered genuine because the defense has repeatedly refused to give them information needed to evaluate it.

No plea agreement exists, prosecutors said in a scathing court document Thursday, and one "is extremely unlikely based on the present information available to the prosecution."

They also said anyone reading news stories about the offer would inevitably conclude "the defendant knows that he is guilty, the defense attorneys know that he is guilty, and that both of them know that he was not criminally insane."

Neither the defense nor the prosecution immediately returned phone calls Thursday.

Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the July 20 shootings in a packed theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 70 were injured.

Holmes' attorneys disclosed in a court filing Wednesday that their client has offered to plead guilty, but only if he wouldn't be executed.

Prosecutors criticized defense attorneys for publicizing the offer, calling it a ploy meant to draw the public and the judge into what should be private plea negotiations.

Prosecutors did not say what information the defense refused to give them, but the two sides have argued in court previously about access to information about Holmes' mental health.

Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor who is now an adjunct professor at the University of Denver's law school, said prosecutors clearly do not want to agree to a plea deal without knowing whether Holmes' attorneys could mount a strong mental health defense.

"One of the issues the prosecution needs to look at is, is there a likelihood that doctors, and then a jury, could find that James Holmes was insane at the time of the crime?" she said.

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