Colo. Shooting Judge Won’t Overturn Insanity Law

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  • DENVER (AP) — The judge in the deadly Colorado theater shootings has denied a request by defense lawyers to declare a state law on the insanity plea unconstitutional.

    In a ruling released Friday, state District Judge William Sylvester granted one defense request, for a written explanation of the consequences of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

    The ruling appears to clear the way for suspect James Holmes to enter a plea as scheduled on Tuesday. His lawyers had said they could not responsibly advise Holmes how to plead because of questions they had about the insanity law.

    An insanity plea has both benefits and risks for Holmes.

    He could avoid prison or execution, and even though he could be sent to the state mental hospital indefinitely, he might be released someday if doctors find he is no longer insane. But under Colorado law, an insanity plea means prosecutors would have access to potentially incriminating evidence such as mental health records.

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