James Holmes to Face 166 Charges for Theater Massacre

Accused Aurora theater gunman James Holmes will stand for trial in the July 2011 massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and dozens wounded, a judge ruled this morning.


Holmes, 25, will face as many as 166 murder and attempted murder charges for allegedly storming into a theater showing a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20 and opening fire on the audience with a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun. He was arrested in the parking lot outside the building immediately following the shooting.

Holmes’ arraignment was pushed back to next week and his attorneys said they weren’t ready to enter a plea, a sign that may mean they are seeking a mental health evaluation in preparation for a not guilty by reason of insanity plea. A successful insanity plea would lead to Holmes being committed to a state mental health facility until he is ruled sane, at which point he could be released.

He could also be found incompetent to participate in his own defense, which would delay any trial while he received treatment from the state.

Over three days of preliminary hearings this week, the court heard testimony from the police officers who arrested Holmes and helped the victims inside the theater, as well as agents who defused the explosive booby traps he left in his apartment.

His defense team did not make any formal statement during the hearings, and the judge decided that the evidence presented by the prosecution was sufficient to proceed to trial.

Holmes’ lawyers could still seek a plea deal with prosecutors. If he stands trial and is found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

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