An offer from James Holmes to plead guilty and spend his life in prison without any chance of parole for the July shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead was turned down by prosecutors.
Prosecutors don’t have the information they were seeking from Holmes to evaluate the offer and determine “a just outcome to this case,” Araphoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said in a filing yesterday in state court in Centennial, in suburban Denver.
Holmes’s attorneys “have steadfastly and repeatedly refused to provide that access and that information for consideration,” Brauchler wrote, without specifying what information was sought.
Lawyers for Holmes said the offer, which would spare him the death penalty, was made before his March 12 arraignment. Prosecutors are expected to inform the court on April 1 whether they will seek the death penalty.
Judge William Sylvester entered a not guilty plea at Holmes’s arraignment because public defender Daniel King said his client wasn’t ready to plead. Defenders have said they are considering an insanity plea.
If prosecutors ask for the death penalty, Holmes may become the first capital defendant to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s insanity-defense laws.
“It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty,” Jeff Middleton, Tamara Brady and King, lawyers with the Colorado public defender’s office, said in a March 27 filing. “If the prosecution elects not to pursue the death penalty, then it is Mr. Holmes’ position that this case could be resolved on April 1.”
The contents of Holmes’s March 27 filing and comments by his lawyers were improper because his defenders suggested the trial would last for months; they violated a gag order by speaking to the media and they mischaracterized whether the victims needed to be notified of the plea offer, Brauchler wrote in his filing.
“The information related to the purported defense ‘offer’ was not only improper but grossly improper,” Brauchler wrote.
Sylvester ruled in January that the government established probable cause that Holmes committed the crimes of which he’s accused. Holmes, who studied neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Denver, is charged with 166 counts, including murder and attempted murder.
The case is People v. Holmes, 12-cr-01522, 18th Judicial District Court, Colorado (Centennial).