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Battle Over Theater Shooting Evidence Grows Heated

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James Holmes in court on Sept. 30, 2012 (credit: Bill Robles)

James Holmes in court on Sept. 30, 2012 (credit: Bill Robles)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – The courtroom battle over what evidence can be used against Aurora theater shooting defendant James Holmes has grown heated, with a defense lawyer aggressively questioning police officers about why Holmes was not allowed to see an attorney for hours after his arrest.

Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the July 2012 attack, which killed 12 people and injured 70 others. In pretrial hearings this month, prosecutors and defense lawyers are arguing over any bit of evidence that might help make the case that Holmes was or wasn’t sane.

On Friday, they will debate Holmes’ email records. Thursday, they skirmished over statements Holmes made to police about the bombs found in his apartment.

Some of those statements could be used by prosecutors to undermine Holmes’ insanity defense, said Dan Recht, a longtime Denver lawyer not involved in the Holmes case.

“It’s the prosecution’s view that those statements show a degree of forethought and a degree of articulateness that are indications of a sane person and not an insane person,” Recht said.

Police questioned Holmes about the bombs after he had asked for a lawyer but before he was allowed to see one.

The defense argues the delay in letting Holmes see a lawyer violated his constitutional rights. Prosecutors said the questions about the explosives were legal because lives were in danger and police needed to know how to defuse the bombs.

Defense attorney Tamara Brady aimed pointed questions at law enforcement officers Thursday, her voice sometimes rising. She said they made Holmes wait more than 13 hours to see a lawyer even though they knew two attorneys were waiting to see him.

Arapahoe County Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. hasn’t said when he will rule on the whether Holmes’ statements can be used.

Even if he excludes the statements, prosecutors still have a strong case, legal analysts say. Holmes’ attorneys have acknowledged he was the shooter, but they say he was in the midst of a psychotic episode.

Holmes’ trial is scheduled to start in February. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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