Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued at a hearing Monday over a notebook James Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist, setting up the first bout over the mass murder defendant’s mental state and possibly laying the groundwork for an insanity defense, reports USA Today. Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers charged James Holmes with 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of murder for the July 20 movie-theater massacre that killed 12 people and injured 58 others. Chambers charged Holmes with 12 counts of premeditated murder and 12 counts of murder with malice and extreme indifference to human life.
The first-degree murder charges underscore prosecutors’ belief that Holmes, 24, acted with premeditation by purchasing guns, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and other gear in the weeks before the theater shooting in Aurora. Chambers has not said whether she will seek the death penalty. Holmes’ lawyers argued that the notebook, discovered in a campus mailroom three days after the rampage, is protected by doctor-patient privilege and that prosecutors should not be allowed to see its contents. The judge said he would hold a hearing later before ruling on that issue. Holmes has not entered a plea, but legal analysts say an insanity defense is likely, given the nature of the crime and revelation he was a psychiatric patient. The insanity defense is rarely used — only about 1% of felony defendants use it — and rarely successful.