DENVER – A judge ruled late Thursday that there’s enough evidence for James Holmes to face trial on charges that he killed 12 people and injured 70 others in a Colorado movie theater last summer.
Judge William Sylvester said prosecutors have established probable cause to proceed with all 166 felony counts they filed against him, including first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree murder with extreme indifference and attempted murder. He ordered that Holmes continue to be held without bail.
Holmes is due to be arraigned today, but his defense attorneys filed papers Thursday afternoon saying he’s not ready to enter a plea. Sylvester noted Holmes’ attorneys will likely ask in court today that the arraignment be delayed.
Defense attorneys did not explain why they are not ready for arraignment.
Sylvester’s ruling came after a three-day hearing earlier this week, in which prosecutors laid out their case against Holmes, 25.
A succession of police and federal agents testified that Holmes spent weeks amassing guns and ammunition, concocted explosives to booby-trap his apartment, and scouted the movie theater where he would allegedly unleash a horrific attack on hundreds of terrified people.
The officers also described a hellish scene inside the theater on July 20, when 12 people were shot to death before their families’ and friends’ eyes and scores of others were wounded amid a din of gunshots, screams and the blaring soundtrack of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Holmes’ lawyers called no witnesses and cross-examined only a few of those summoned by prosecutors during the hearing. But they pointedly raised the issue of Holmes’ sanity at strategic moments, possibly foreshadowing a defense that some believe is his best hope to avoid the death penalty.
“You’re aware that people can be found not guilty on the grounds of insanity?” defense attorney Daniel King asked one witness.
The preliminary hearing, which ended Wednesday, was designed to determine whether prosecutors’ case is strong enough to put Holmes on trial.
Holmes’ lawyers haven’t said if he will plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but since his arrest outside the theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora immediately after the shootings, they have portrayed him as a man with serious mental problems prone to bizarre behavior.
Many legal analysts have said they expect the case to end with a plea bargain rather than a trial.