DA: Law in Colo. theater shooting constitutional

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm •  Published: March 6, 2013

DENVER (AP) — Prosecutors in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting are disputing defense arguments that the state law on insanity pleas is unconstitutional.

In court documents made public Wednesday, prosecutors said the statute has been upheld in other cases, and that judges have ways to protect defendants' rights.

Lawyers for suspect James Holmes filed motions last week asking the judge in the case to declare the law unconstitutional because it would require Holmes' attorneys to give prosecutors potentially incriminating information, such as mental health records, if he pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

The defense said that violates Holmes' rights, including Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination. They said defendants who simply plead not guilty are not required to turn over such information.

Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the July 20 shootings at a suburban Denver theater that killed 12 and injured 70.

Prosecutors have not said whether they will pursue the death penalty. Under state law they have to announce their decision within 60 days once Holmes enters a plea.

That is scheduled to happen Tuesday.

In their motions filed last week, Holmes' lawyers revealed for the first time they were considering entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. But they said they could not give him adequate advice on how to plead unless the judge ruled on whether the insanity law was constitutional.