Sanity exam of accused Colorado theater gunman can be filmed: judge

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 24, 2014 4:58 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A second psychiatric examination of accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes, who says he was insane when he shot dead 12 moviegoers two years ago, can be recorded on video, a judge overseeing the case ruled on Thursday.

Holmes is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire inside a cinema in the Denver suburb of Aurora during a midnight viewing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012.

The shooting rampage killed 12 people and wounded 70 others, and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for the 26-year-old California native if he is convicted.

Holmes has entered an insanity plea in the case and last year underwent a sanity examination.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour ordered a second evaluation in February, siding with prosecutors who said the initial evaluation, whose results have not been made public, was “incomplete and inadequate.”

On Thursday, Samour rejected a motion by lawyers for Holmes that filming the second evaluation could violate his right against self-incrimination.

In a motion seeking to bar the videotaping of the new examination, defense lawyers said that “nonverbal communications are testimonial acts,” and recording them could be used against their client.

But Samour rejected that argument, noting that under Colorado law, a defendant waives the right against self-incrimination after invoking an insanity defense.

In a hearing on the issue this week, an unidentified psychiatrist who is conducting the evaluation testified by telephone that recording the examination on video reduces the chance for errors.

Additionally, the evaluator said in a letter to the judge that Holmes has already been monitored by surveillance cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week since his arrest. Jury selection for the murder trial is set to begin on Dec. 8.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)