Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes case: Second sanity exam postponed until judge rules on objections

A second mental evaluation of Aurora theater shooting gunman James Holmes will be postponed until objections raised by Holmes's attorneys have been resolved, Judge Carlos Samour ruled this week. Samour's order (on view below) is in response to three motions filed by the defense on March 14 asking Samour to reconsider his decision to order Holmes to be evaluated a second time because the first evaluation was "inadequate." The details of the defense's arguments are unknown, however, because the three motions were filed under seal.

Some background: Holmes was first evaluated by Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist and consultant to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, or CMHIP. After the evaluation was completed last summer, prosecutors filed a motion alleging that it contained "numerous deficiencies," and that Metzner himself had an "unfair bias." They requested that Holmes be re-evaluated by two specific doctors.

Instead, Samour ordered CMHIP to choose by March 10 a new "neutral expert" to examine Holmes, which it has done. He also set a deadline for the expert's report: July 11.

In an order (also on view below) granting the defense's request to file its three objection motions under seal, Samour summarizes the motions. Motion D-200 asks Samour to reconsider some of his "findings and rulings," he writes. Among other arguments, it attempts to make the case that he failed to properly analyze "the relevance and scope" of the prosecution's request for a second evaluation and that he should reconsider his conclusion that Metzner "developed a bias" as a result of that request.

Motion D-201 argues that "there is no factual support in the record for the conclusion that an entirely new sanity examination is necessary" and that conducting one will interfere with Holmes's constitutional rights, among other allegations, Samour writes.

And finally, Motion D-202 "renews a constitutional challenge to a provision in the insanity statutes and urges the Court to allow (Holmes's) attorneys to be present during the new sanity examination, if one is conducted," according to Samour's order.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murdering twelve people and injuring seventy others by opening fire at the Aurora Century 16 theater on July 20, 2012. Samour ordered the second mental evaluation to determine one thing: whether Holmes was insane when he committed the acts with which he's charged.

But now it seems that evaluation will be postponed until Samour rules on defense motions D-200, D-201 and D-202. Samour's order does not mention a new deadline for the expert.

Read Samour's orders below.

Order Staying Second Mental Evaluation

Order Re: Requests to Suppress Motions D-200, D-201 and D-202

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes case: Will U.S. Supreme Court weigh in on whether Fox reporter should testify?"

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar