DENVER (AP) – Evidence from Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes’ wallet can be used at his trial, the judge ruled Friday, a victory for prosecutors that could aid their attempts to undermine Holmes’ insanity plea.
The driver’s license found in the wallet would help prosecutors link Holmes to his booby-trapped apartment, part of a range of evidence they might use to argue Holmes was sane.
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. sided with the defense in a separate ruling, saying a police officer won’t be allowed to testify at the trial that Holmes smirked at him when he asked if he had accomplices.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora in July 2012. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, but they must first convince jurors that Holmes was sane.
At pretrial hearings, police testified Holmes’ driver’s license led them to his apartment, where they found potentially deadly homemade bombs. Holmes told the officers the bombs were there, police have testified.
The bombs did not go off.
Officers have said the bombs were meant to divert first-responders from the theater – something prosecutors could use to argue that Holmes knew the shootings were wrong and thus could not be insane under Colorado law.
Defense lawyers have acknowledged Holmes was the shooter but said he was “in the throes of a psychotic episode.”
The defense argued the wallet search was illegal because police didn’t have a warrant. The judge agreed with prosecutors that no warrant was needed because the wallet was seized during a legal arrest. Holmes was taken into custody moments after the shooting.
Aurora Police officer Justin Grizzle testified at a pretrial hearing that when he asked Holmes about accomplices, Holmes responded with “a self-satisfying offensive smirk.” Holmes said nothing, Grizzle testified.
Samour ruled the alleged smirk was not a form of communication and cannot be used as a statement. Samour said testimony about the expression would be of little use to jurors but could unfairly prejudice them against Holmes.
– By Dan Elliott, AP Writer
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