A Colorado judge today entered a standard not-guilty plea for James Holmes, a somewhat surprising development given that court watchers had expected the suspected (legally speaking) Aurora gunman to enter a more specific plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The New York Times with the details:
In the days before Tuesday’s hearing, the judge in the case, William B. Sylvester, had laid the groundwork for Mr. Holmes to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, describing the mental examinations and court-ordered interviews that would flow from such a plea.
But Mr. Holmes’s lawyers told the court on Tuesday that they were not ready to enter any plea, and said they did know when they might be ready. Clearly frustrated, Judge Sylvester refused the defense’s requests for more time and entered the simple not guilty plea for Mr. Holmes.
Holmes and his lawyers can still change the plea and offer an insanity defense later—although the prosecution is suggesting that they’ll do all they can to fight such a move. “As far as we’re concerned, they are entering a plea of not guilty, and what they have done to this point is not sufficient to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity,” Karen Pearson, an Arapahoe County assistant DA, told the court today. However, it is unclear if, and perhaps unlikely that, they’d be able to stop Holmes for entering into his own plea. Regardless, prosecutors are expected to announce early next month whether they will seek the death penalty.