DENVER (AP) – Police officers who arrested James Holmes moments after the Colorado theater shootings will be allowed to tell jurors that when they asked Holmes if he had an accomplice, he replied, “No, it’s just me,” the judge ruled Friday.
The officers also say Holmes told them he had four guns and that he had left bombs in his apartment that would go off if wires were tripped.
The judge ruled the arresting officers’ testimony about Holmes’ statements can be used as prosecution evidence, even though police had not read Holmes his Miranda rights advising him he could remain silent.
The judge said officers were allowed to question Holmes without reading him his rights under a public safety exception to the Miranda rule because they needed to know about any accomplices.
The testimony could help prosecutors in their effort to undermine Holmes’ claim that he was insane at the time of the July 2012 shootings, which left 12 dead and 70 injured.
Holmes, now 25, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Defense lawyers have acknowledged Holmes was the shooter.
Holmes was arrested by some of the first officers to arrive at the theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. They testified that bleeding victims were still running away screaming as they confronted Holmes, who did not resist.
They said their training taught them that mass killings often have more than one perpetrator, and the fleeing victims made them suspect another shooter might still be inside the theater.
The officers testified they asked Holmes if he had any weapons. Holmes replied “four guns” and added that he had bombs at his apartment, police said. The bombs were defused with no explosions or injuries.
Defense lawyers said the officers’ testimony shouldn’t be allowed because they had not read Holmes his Miranda rights. The defense also argued Holmes’ statements were not voluntary.
Prosecutors argued police did not have to read Holmes his rights because they urgently needed to know if there was another shooter. They also denied Holmes was coerced.
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos T. Samour Jr. agreed with prosecutors.
Samour has not yet ruled on several other evidence questions. The defense has asked him to bar evidence found in Holmes’ apartment and car, statements Holmes made to officers later about the bombs in his apartment, and the contents of Holmes’ phone, which included photos of Holmes wearing reddish-orange hair and dark contact lenses and holding guns.
Law enforcement officers have testified at pretrial hearings the photos were taken hours before the attack.
Jury selection for Holmes’ trial is expected to begin in February and take several weeks.
– By Dan Elliott, AP Writer
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