Judge postpones hearings on theater shooter's mental health

Dec. 16, 2013 at 2:23 PM   |   Comments

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Hearings into the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting case were postponed as attorneys argued whether the gunman should have another psychiatric evaluation.

In an order issued last week, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour delayed hearings this week on James Holmes' mental state when he fatally shot 12 and wounded dozens more at a Cineplex in 2012.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The evaluation's results have been kept secret so far.

In his order on Friday, Samour wrote that the evaluation drew conclusions on whether Holmes was sane at the time of the shooting; if he now is mentally competent to stand trial and if the defendant suffers from a mental illness that is a valid defense against the death penalty.

In court last month, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said prosecutors disagree with the evaluation's finding on one of the issues and asked Samour to order Holmes to undergo another evaluation, this time by prosecution experts.

A sealed prosecution motion referenced in Samour's order indicated the prosecution experts would "examine the defendant in order to generate their own reports that would cure the deficiencies described."

Defense attorneys objected to the request.

Samour postponed this week's hearings because of confusion about the request, writing that prosecutors in a later court filing seemed to be expanding the purpose of the proposed new evaluation, which he criticized as improperly late, the Post said.

"Nevertheless, given the significance of the issue, the court believes it would be imprudent to ... hold the prosecution to the limited request it never intended to make or which it has now abandoned," Samour said in his order.

New dates for the hearings haven't been scheduled, but the Post said Samour has set aside two days in January to debate the matter.

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