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Holmes can plead insanity in Colo. theater shooting

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Mass shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes was allowed Tuesday to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, setting the stage for an extensive mental-health evaluation that could stretch into 2014.

Judge Carlos Samour Jr. accepted the revised plea at a hearing Tuesday, three months after the court entered a plea of not guilty on Mr. Holmes' behalf in the Aurora theater shooting.

Mr. Holmes, a 25-year-old former graduate student, has been charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder stemming from the July 20 attack at the Century 16 Aurora premier of "The Dark Knight Rises" that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

His defense attorneys have argued that Mr. Holmes is mentally ill. Last month, the court rebuffed their efforts to overturn the state's laws on the insanity plea.

Tuesday's plea means that Mr. Holmes must cooperate with a series of court-ordered independent psychiatric evaluations designed to determine his mental state at the time of the shooting. As a result, his trial date may be pushed back from the scheduled start date of February 2014.

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is seeking the death penalty, but if a jury finds that Mr. Holmes was legally insane at the time of the shooting, under state law he cannot be executed.

The court was also considering Tuesday dozens of motions defense filed by the defense on topics such as jury sequestration and evidence procedures.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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