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Judge accepts insanity plea in Colo. shooting case

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A judge on Tuesday accepted James Holmes’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, setting the stage for a lengthy mental evaluation of the Colorado theater shooting suspect.

The court clerk placed a written advisory of the ground rules of the plea before
Holmes so he could examine it as Judge Carlos Samour Jr. read through all 18 points.

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When Samour asked if he had any questions, Holmes replied no. Samour then accepted the plea.

‘‘I find Mr. Holmes understands the effects and consequences of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea,’’ the judge said. ‘‘He was looking at the advisement and appeared to be following along.’’

Holmes is accused of opening fire in a packed Denver-
area movie theater last summer, killing 12 people and injuring 70. He is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes’s lawyers repeatedly have said he is mentally ill, but they delayed the insanity plea while arguing state laws were unconstitutional. They said the laws could hobble the defense if Holmes’s case should ever reach the phase where the jury decides if he should be executed.

The judge rejected that argument last week.

Hundreds of people were watching a midnight showing of ‘‘The Dark Knight Rises’’ at the theater when the shooting occurred July 20.

Prosecutors say Holmes spent months buying weapons, ammunition, and materials for explosives.

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