The man charged with opening fire with an automatic weapon in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater has been found not guilty by reason of insanity. According to Colorado’s News Channel 9, the judge in the case indicated in a hearing Tuesday morning that the court would allow James Holmes to change his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.
The ruling sets in motion a lengthy mental evaluation of Holmes, which could last for months. Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the killing of 12 people and wounding of 70 when he entered a crowded theater and opened fire with an automatic weapon.
Holmes’ defense team has asserted repeatedly to the court that the 25-year-old is mentally ill. The attorneys waited to plea on grounds that state laws regarding the defense of insanity plea are unconstitutional.
Under Colorado law, a defendant who enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity must work with court-ordered psychiatrists and cannot call their own mental health experts. Some advocates say that this is a violation of the defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination.