A judge here entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday for James Holmes, a former neuroscience student charged with killing 12 people and wounding scores more in a mass shooting in a suburban Denver movie theater.
a former neuroscience student charged with killing 12 people and wounding scores more in a mass shooting in a suburban Denver movie theater.
Clearly frustrated, Judge Sylvester refused the defense’s requests for more time and entered the simple not guilty plea for Mr. Holmes.
Mr. Holmes, 25, was arrested moments after the July 20 shooting at the Century theaters in Aurora, clad in black body armor. Prosecutors have already presented hours of testimony and documentary evidence that Mr. Holmes was the gunman who slipped out of a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” armed himself in the parking lot, and then re-entered through an emergency exit and started shooting.
Holmes’ parents, Robert and Arlene, sat together in the second row of the packed courtroom, just several feet from their son, who wore a red jail jumpsuit and now has longer, bushier brown hair and a thick beard. They left the courtroom with tears in their eyes after the 30-minute proceeding.
Daniel King, Holmes’ lead attorney, said part of the delay on entering a plea is not knowing if his client could face execution. It puts them in a “Catch-22″ with how to proceed, he said. When King told Sylvester the defense team wasn’t ready to plead, several victims and their families near the back of the courtroom dropped their heads. One groaned, seemingly in disgust.
Sylvester asked King how much time the defense needed.
“[That’s] very difficult to say, judge. We could be ready by May 1. I don’t know,” King responded. “It may be June 1. It’s very difficult for us to predict. I wish I could give the court a better answer.”
The district attorney said it will announce on April 1 if it plans to seek the death penalty. Sylvester scheduled the trial to begin in August for four weeks.