James Holmes, the suspect who opened fire in a Colorado theater will get a mental evaluation on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. The court allowed the suspect to get evaluated by psychiatrists after blaming the events on insanity reasons.
Mental evaluation is required by law whenever the court is dealing with cold-blood murders such as the ones performed by James Holmes, a neuroscience graduate student who killed several people in a Colorado theater, last year. The court agreed that Holmes should get mentally evaluated, but it could take a while until the Colorado Mental Health Institute could issue a report on the suspect’s condition. A mental-health professional will have to read first the evidence gathered for the case and the file contains 40,000 pages.
160 counts of murder have been brought against James Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 70 more during the July 20 rampage. Prosecutors want to obtain the death penalty, but the suspect’s legal representatives claim he is not mentally healthy and, therefore, needs to receive adequate medical care. Prosecutors could not provide an exact date for Holmes’ evaluation; they have told the press that an August 2 deadline has been set up, but mental experts may not be able to get a correct diagnosis by then. If that be the case, judge Carlos Samour Jr. will set a new deadline, even though he still hopes he can begin Holmes’ trial in February.
Defense lawyers are willing to do whatever it takes to get their client rid of the death penalty. They told the press that they will try to seek a change of venue by claiming that the case has been affected by pretrial publicity.
Howard Zonana, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University and medical director of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, revealed that the suspect’s case has to be well-studied before the examination because the mental-health professional has to be up to date with all the aspects that have been discussed in court. Depending on the case, the evaluation period could be longer or shorter.