Could alleged Dark Knight shooter James Holmes go free someday? A Colorado judge has accepted James Holmes' insanity plea -- not guilty of the murders by reason of insanity. As defined by Colorado law, this plea is defined as "the inability to distinguish right from wrong caused by a diseased or defective mind." For Holmes and his team, this plea is his chance to avoid the death penalty. For everyone, this means a long trial with mental evaluations and expert witness testimonies on Holmes' mental state.
Best-case scenario for Holmes would be that he's committed to a state mental hospital. And if doctors were to one day find his sanity restored, he could be released -- a notion that sends chills down my spine. But that scenario is so, so unlikely.
In fact, Holmes' lawyers took this long to enter a plea for their client because the Colorado laws about insanity pleas and the death penalty pretty much stack the deck against their case. For example, Holmes has to cooperate with doctors during the mandatory mental evaluation or he'll lose the right to call his own expert witnesses to testify about his mental state. His lawyers say that's unfair; Judge Carlos Samour Jr. says too bad.
So now Holmes will go through the mental evaluation, which could take months. It will be interesting to see what the doctors say. But how much should it matter?
I don't feel like we're too lenient with accused murders who want to claim insanity these days. I think most of us, jurors or not, want to see people held accountable for their actions, even if they're mentally disturbed. I don't even quite understand how the plea of insanity is even logical in this situation. I mean, if Holmes' mind was too defective to tell right from wrong, why did he create a plan intended to inflict the most possible damage? Kind of looks like he knew what "wrong" is and went for it.
But I'm not a psychiatrist and I'm not a jury in this case. So we'll have to let this whole sad saga play out in the courts. I think it will be very interesting to hear what the doctors say, but I'm even more interested to find out what the jurors make of it all.
Do you think it's very likely that James Holmes will eventually be found not guilty by reason of insanity?
Image via Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office