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Holmes Lawyers Seek To Bar Bomb Experts’ Testimony

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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)

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — The battle over what evidence can be used against Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes is turning to the testimony of bomb technicians and explosives experts.

Pretrial hearings on the evidence resume Tuesday.

Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack. Prosecutors and defense lawyers are trying to persuade the judge to allow or throw out evidence that could be used to bolster or weaken the insanity claim.

Law enforcement officers have testified they found intricately planned bombs meant to divert police from the theater while the shootings were going on. None of the bombs went off.

Prosecutors could use that alleged diversionary tactic to argue that Holmes knew the theater attack was a crime — a blow to the insanity defense, which requires a defendant be unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

Holmes faces multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. His lawyers acknowledge he was the shooter, but they say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, but first they must convince jurors that Holmes was sane.

On Monday, defense attorneys argued that police coerced and misled Holmes into talking to them about bombs that were found in his apartment, and they said his statements shouldn’t be used against him.

Holmes was questioned about the bombs before he was allowed to speak with an attorney, even though police have acknowledged he had asked approximately 13 hours earlier to see a lawyer.

Defense lawyer Kristen Nelson said Holmes felt pressured to talk to police because he was isolated in a room without a lawyer, and the officers implied they wanted to know about the bombs to protect people’s lives, not to build a case against him.

Nelson also said Holmes was displaying signs of mental illness, and police should have allowed a lawyer to be present to protect him from incriminating himself.

Prosecutor Rich Orman said court precedents allowed police to question Holmes without an attorney present because of the threat the bombs posed.

The judge hasn’t said when he will rule.

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

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