Judge Samour, the justice presiding over James Holmes’ murder trial for the Aurora theater shootings, has allowed the jury to view a video of James Holmes talking to a psychiatrist. The video, which is over 22 hours long, includes James Holmes describing what he saw and felt when he carried out the mass shooting. Defense attorneys argue showing the video of James talking directly to the psychiatrist is a violation of his Fifth Amendment right of self-incrimination. Judge Samour has denied multiple requests to prevent the video from being shown to a jury. The video is so important to the case that the Defense has filed for a mistrial. Unsurprisingly, that request was denied. To counter-balance what the defense argues is a violation of the defendants’ rights, Judge Samour instructed the jury to use the evidence only for a specific purpose. The jury is to contemplate the evidence only in the context of determining James Holmes’ mental state at the time of the incident.
Often times as defense attorneys we are told that certain evidence may be prejudicial to a client but that the jury will be given an instruction to only use information for one purpose. It is naive of the courts to ever believe that jurors will be able to fully compartmentalize information in such a manner without causing potential harm to the defense.
The Law offices of Steven Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense and evidence suppression. If you have been charged with a crime contact our office today for a free consultation.
Cite: Jordan Steffen, The Denver Post, 6/24/2015
There is no question who committed the Aurora Theater Massacre. The only questions remaining is the mental state of the defendant at the time and whether or not he should be put to death. James Holmes’ personal spiral notebook is being examined by Prosecutors and Defense lawyers in this death penalty case. The notebook contains a plan for a “mass murder spree” which considers theaters and times to attack for “maximum casualties”. The notebook also contains some hints to James Holmes mental condition including multiple pages filled with the words “Why?” Prosecutors in this case are trying to argue that Holmes intentionally planned and executed a heinous attack on civilians. This theory is backed up by a court-ordered examination by psychiatrist Dr. William Reid. Reid states that “Whatever he suffered from, it did not prevent him from forming the intent and knowing what he was doing and the consequences of what he was doing.” The defense is arguing that the notebook shows a man who was delusional and intent to call their own experts who will argue Mr. Holmes was in a state of “florid psychosis” the night of the shootings. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in Colorado criminal defense. If you have been charged with a crime, call our office today for a free consultation.
Cite: Jack Healy, The New York Time, May 28, 2015