When James Holmes, the suspect in a Colorado massacre that left 12 people dead and 70 wounded in July 2012, was admitted to a hospital in November many believed that his attorneys would mount an insanity defense after a medical evaluation.
Those suspicions later seemed unwarranted as evidence was presented during preliminary hearings for the purpose of establishing probable cause. Numerous first responders and witnesses testified to the horror left behind by the suspect, and their testimony was reinforced by video from a surveillance camera played by prosecutors.
It appeared unlikely at the time that Holmes’ attorneys would construct a defense around “diminished capacity” after much of the evidence was reviewed, including documents and digital evidence recovered at the suspect’s home that showed meticulous planning and weapons stockpiling. Holmes also allegedly visited the theater numerous times prior to the shooting and even booby-trapped his apartment with explosives to ensnare even more people in his plot.
Although it was ruled that there is enough evidence to go to trial, defense attorneys succeeded in postponing the trial start for two months so that they may prepare. That means Holmes did not have to enter a plea, which leaves the door open for nearly any kind of defense regardless of the evidence introduced by prosecutors.
There have been indications that defense attorneys are considering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, although they did not call any witnesses to rebut prosecutors’ assertions during the preliminary hearings that Holmes knew what he was doing. Even so, they will have a chance to do so at trial.
The judge’s delay announcement caused tempers to rise in the courtroom where Holmes and many victims’ family members were seated. Many people stormed out of the courtroom upon hearing the announcement and one family member yelled to Holmes that he should “rot in hell.”