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Theater shooting: Long legal process ahead for theater shooting suspect James Holmes

9:12 AM, Jul 21, 2012   |    comments
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Holmes is due in court Monday morning. Robinson says people can expect a simple advisement procedure on that day.

"I would suspect it's too early for the defense to be raising competency - which will probably happen - and it'll be too early for the prosecution to have charges together," Robinson told 9NEWS.

Competency is a large debate in this case. Competency means whether the suspect actually knows what is going on and knows why they are in court facing charges.

"[Holmes'] lawyer believes he is not competent to proceed - that is that he's not able due to a mental defect or disorder to assist in the appropriation of his own defense," Robinson said. "Then the defense lawyer has an absolute duty to raise competency and [request] a competency evaluation."

Robinson says if it's determined he is not competent to stand trial, the legal process will come to a grinding halt until Holmes is restored to competency.

"Only down the road do we consider the question of 'not guilty by reason of insanity,'" Robinson said. "Insanity is the classic M'Naghten test - whether the individual knows the difference between right and wrong."

Since the charges are likely to include at least 12 counts of 'after deliberation - first-degree murder' and 12 counts of 'extreme indifference - first-degree murder,' the stakes are high. The chance of the death penalty being on the table for Holmes is high.

"This is a unique type of situation, first off, we have a prosecutor who is leaving office, so the decision to seek the death penalty may not be one that Carol Chambers - the present D.A. - chooses to make," Robinson said. "If in fact, Holmes is found 'not guilty by reason of insanity,' the death penalty is a non issue because the penalty for being found 'not guilty by reason of insanity' is hospitalization at the state hospital until you are deemed ready to go [back] into society."

There is a certain amount of struggle in the United States Supreme Court as to whether mental illness alone prevents the death penalty from being imposed. Mental retardation and incompetency prevents it already.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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