Judge in James Holmes case denies defense request to overturn insanity law

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James Holmes arrives in court for his preliminary hearing on Monday Jan. 7, 2013.

James Holmes arrives in court for his preliminary hearing on Monday Jan. 7, 2013.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Attorneys for accused Aurora theater gunman James Holmes asked the judge in the case to overturn a Colorado law on the insanity plea, on the basis of constitutionality.

On Friday, Judge William Sylvester’s denial of that request was made public.

Holmes’ attorneys were arguing the insanity law in question was too vague and could eventually serve to violate Holmes’ Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination. Sylvester disagreed, saying the defense’s argument was too reliant on “hypothetical facts.”

The judge also cited the fact that appellate courts have consistently upheld the insanity law in prior cases in his ruling.

The judge did, however, agree to personally explain to Holmes the ramifications of entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which many expect the 25-year old to do.

Friday’s ruling will likely make the job of securing a guilty verdict easier for Arapahoe County prosecutors, as it will force Holmes to make a public declaration about whether he will take the stand or allow his medical records to be released.

Holmes faces 166 charges, including first-degree murder and attempted murder, in connection with the July 20 Aurora theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 others wounded.

Holmes is expected to enter a plea at his upcoming hearing on March 12, though it is also possible that his defense team could ask Sylvester for more time.