A Colorado judge has accepted accused theater shooter ‘James Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, a move that could spare him from the death penalty.
The decision sets in motion a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of Holmes, a process that could take months.
Holmes is accused of opening fire last July 20 during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” Batman movie, killing 12 people and injuring another 70. He faces a total of 166 counts, including murder and attempted murder.
Holmes, 25, could face the death if tried and convicted. The insanity plea could help him avoid execution, if convicted.
If Holmes is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital, according to the Associated Press. He could eventually be released if doctors found that his sanity was restored, but that is unlikely.
Colorado law defines insanity as the inability to distinguish right from wrong caused by a diseased or defective mind.