In the days before Tuesday's hearing, the judge in the case, William B. Sylvester, had laid the groundwork for Mr. Holmes to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, describing the mental examinations and court-ordered interviews that would flow from such a plea.
But Mr. Holmes’s lawyers told the court on Tuesday that they were not ready to enter any plea, and said they did not know when they might be ready. Clearly frustrated, Judge Sylvester refused the defense’s requests for more time and entered the simple not guilty plea for Mr. Holmes.
Mr. Holmes, 25, was arrested moments after the July 20 shooting at the Century theaters in Aurora, clad in black body armor. Prosecutors have already presented hours of testimony and documentary evidence that Mr. Holmes was the gunman who slipped out of a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” armed himself in the parking lot, and then re-entered through an emergency exit and started shooting.
Mr. Holmes can still change the plea, but prosecutors signaled they would fight any such move.
“As far as we’re concerned, they are entering a plea of not guilty, and what they have done to this point is not sufficient to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity,” Karen Pearson, an assistant district attorney for Arapahoe County, said in court.
On Tuesday, prosecutors said they would announce whether they would seek the death penalty against Mr. Holmes at an April 1 hearing.
The judge set a four-week trial for the month of August. Given the delays so far in the case, that date may not hold