The suspect in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history may change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.
Attorneys for James Holmes announced their plans to change the plea--which had previously been a standard not guilty plea--in a court filing Tuesday. They are expected to make the formal request in a hearing on May 13.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding almost 60 after allegedly opening fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora last summer. He is the only suspect.
11 News spoke with a former El Paso County prosecutor who is not involved with the James Holmes case, who said the plea has a big impact on the landscape of his trial.
It will prolong the process, the prosecutor said, but also open up evidence that was sealed for the prosecution.
"They would have to be able to have some doctor giving an opinion that he was incapable of appraising the nature of his acts," David Webster said.
Webster said to plead not guilty by reason of insanity makes sense for Holmes’ lawyers.
"Your duty is to try and protect your client, and in this case, try to save your client’s life...in this particular situation, a decent defense is that he was crazy,” Webster said.
The new plea will now allow prosecutors access to Holmes' journal and medical records.
"Because he's relying on his mental state as a defense it opens the door for the DA to be able to examine all information that pertains to his mental state at the time of the commission of the crime," Webster told 11 News.
Holmes' trial is set to start February 2014; there’s no word yet on how this plea might affect that.
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