Not guilty plea for James Holmes – but insanity option still on table
At the arraignment Tuesday for James Holmes, the Colorado shooting suspect, his lawyers said he was not yet ready to enter a plea. The judge entered the not-guilty plea on the suspect's behalf.
RJ Sangosti/Denver Post/AP
It was Mr. Holmes's first public appearance in nearly eight months, and he was widely expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity – an option that is still open to him and is still the most likely outcome.
As Holmes sat nearby, wearing a red jumpsuit and a full brown beard, his lawyers said he might not be ready to enter a plea until May or June.
"I don't think we could ethically stand before you and tell you we're ready to make a plea," defense lawyer Daniel King said.
Judge William Sylvester, meanwhile, acted annoyed.
"How am I to make an informed decision based on the limited information you've given me?" he asked, before entering the "not guilty" plea on Holmes's behalf.
Holmes faces 166 counts – mostly for murder and attempted murder – for the shooting, which killed 12 and injured 58.
In recent months, his lawyers have repeatedly emphasized a precarious mental state. Last week, they filed a motion to preserve video from a November hospital stay, in which they say that Holmes was rushed to such a facility because he needed psychiatric help and that he was held there for several days, "frequently in restraints."
His lawyers have also challenged the constitutionality of Colorado's insanity-plea laws, saying that they're too vague and that, particularly in a capital case, they could cause a defendant to self-incriminate during a psychiatric evaluation. (Prosecutors have not yet said whether they intend to seek the death penalty.)