If Holmes is found sane, goes to trial and is convicted, his attorneys can try to stave off a possible death penalty by arguing he is mentally ill. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they will seek the death penalty. They will have 90 days from Holmes’ arraignment to hold Holmes for trial to decide.
If Holmes is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would likely be sent to the state mental hospital, not prison. Such a defendant is deemed not guilty because he didn’t know right from wrong and is therefore ‘‘absolved’’ of the crime, said former Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey. His case would be reviewed every six months until he’s deemed sane and released.
Last year, Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood was acquitted by reason of insanity of attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of two eighth-graders outside a school not far from Columbine High School. Eastwood is spending time in a mental hospital.
Associated Press writers Thomas Peipert, Nicholas Riccardi and Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.