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A Colorado judge has allowed James Holmes to change his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.
“I find Mr. Holmes understands the effects and consequences of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea,” Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. “He was looking at the advisement and appeared to be following along.”
Holmes, 24, is facing 116 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons charges stemming from the July 20 massacre that killed 12 people and injured 70 more at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
A series of mental health tests will now decide if Holmes, a former neuroscience doctoral student the University of Colorado-Denver, was of sound mind that July night. The evaluation is expected to take months.
If found not guilty by a jury by reason of insanity, Holmes would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital. If found guilty, a penalty phase will ensue, with the decision falling to the jury as to whether Holmes will face the death penalty.
A death penalty verdict could result in appeals that could take years to resolve.
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