Colorado Shooter James Holmes Mentally Insane Or Calculated Killer

The death penalty is a possible sentence for alleged Colorado shooting suspect, James Holmes, for the alleged massacre of 12 people and injury to 58 others on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado in Century Movie Theater 9. Today, he was charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.

What’s his defense? Insanity, on two fronts, pre-trial and at-trial.

At pre-trial, he could argue he is insane, “mentally incompetent” for trial, and if granted, there will be no trial and he will be sent to a psychiatric facility until he is deemed competent to stand trial. He would have to prove his “incompetency”, for instance, that he doesn’t understand the nature of the charges and he is unable to assist his attorneys with his defense. If he fails to prove incompetency, he stands trial.

At trial, he would have to prove, basically, that a “mental illness” prevented him from forming the intent to kill required for a murder conviction and that he did not understand the nature of his acts; therefore, guilty by reason of insanity which avoids the death penalty and sends him off to a psychiatric facility until he is deemed no longer ill to afford a release.

Yes, I think we’d all agree that you’d have to be insane to do what was done. However, legal “insanity” is a far more exacting standard.

Specifically, under Colorado law, he would have to prove that his mind is so “diseased” that he couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong. Yet, jurors will be instructed that “mental disease” or “defect” should not be confused with “moral obliquity, mental depravity, or passion growing out of anger, revenge, hatred, or other motives, and kindred evil conditions.”

Mental incompetency and an insanity defense at trial are never easy for a defendant to prove. And, in this case, it’s unlikely he will succeed on either front. Even when a defendant has a documented history or a medical finding of a mental illness (ie, schizophrenia, sociopath, etc.), jurors still tend to reject an insanity defense in favor of conviction. Based on the information we know so far, the details of the massacre, booby-trapping his apartment, a recent visit (s) to therapist, spitting at guards, dying his hair red or even appearing “out of it” in court is not enough to prove a mental illness.

However, the box that he sent to his therapist may provide the evidence needed to prove his incompetency and mental illness. Yet, until his writings and the contents are revealed, it’s too soon to know if a judge will be persuaded to find him incompetent to stand trial or whether a jury will find him insane. Maybe, the very evidence to prove his mental illness? Or, maybe further evidence of a calculating premeditated killer who planned every last detail, even his defense?

Simply my opinion, what say you?

(More analysis on what triggered Colorado Shooting Suspect James Holmes)

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4 Comments on “Colorado Shooter James Holmes Mentally Insane Or Calculated Killer”

  1. shelly says:

    did anyone test him for drug or alcohol use when he was taken into custody? I would not be in his defense, even if, but it would show the world the serious danger of drugs/alcohol.

    • Good question, don’t know, but, likely did drug test. And, some speculate that maybe the shooter was on drugs or meds that may have triggered/impacted his actions. We’ll see what his defense presents.

  2. Jill Estensen says:

    I guess the authorities have to go deeper into the individual case to prove insanity or we would have many, many military strategists on trial. My heart aches for the families of the people killed, injured and even the shooter and his family.

    • Since John Hinkley shot Reagan and was found legally insane, many states re-evaluated the insanity defense and some abolished it while others made it tougher to prove. It is awful senseless tragedy for all involved.


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