Critical Thought Essay 3 Insanity Plea

Submitted By haileycarlsonyahooco
Words: 1019
Pages: 5

On January 20, 2015, the jury selection for the mass shooting trial in Aurora, Colorado will begin. The sole suspect, James Holmes, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 17 people and the injuring 70. The formal charges against Holmes consist of 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. There were multiple tests given to Holmes, because the first was considered biased and the second was wanted to be thrown out. There has been different information given about his sanity before the incident. There is also some other evidence that is not yet available. I do not think there is enough information available to say if Holmes was sane at the time of the offense or not, but I do think there are some clues to show he may have not been sane before the massacre from the information available.
The insanity law in Colorado is that “the state uses a modified version of the M'Naghten Rule with the Irresistible Impulse Test, [and] the burden of proof is on the state.” The M’Naghten rule focuses on whether or not, at the time of the committed crime, the alleged criminal understood right from wrong or the nature of the crime. In the Holmes’ case we don’t know if he was in a state to understand right from wrong yet. With this rule the irresistible impulse test is also used. This states that the offender was incapable of controlling his or her action due to suffering from a mental illness or defect (although being capable to decide right from wrong at the time of the incident). An example of this defense would be a law-abiding father that shoots a perpetrator that assaulted his daughter. This father could argue that he was so enraged that he was not mentally sane and was incapable of exercising self-control. The state is responsible for finding the proof of these. To decide whether or not Holmes fits into this, a lot of information would need to be obtained. Since the public and media are “barred” from the information due to affect the jury’s opinions before the trial, it is hard to get information to form an opinion on Holmes’ sanity at the time of the shooting.
Holmes was from California; he came from a very educated family. He received his undergraduate degree in neuroscience at the University of California, Riverside. He was a camp counselor for children, a great student, son, and didn’t seem to have disciplinary issues. Those who spoke of him spoke highly of his maturity and intelligence. Those that spoke of him and knew him while he lived in California said he was a completely different person than the one the media speaks of now. He enrolled as a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado in 2011. In 2012 his academics began to decline, and he began to have some disciplinary issues. He was said to be seeing a psychiatrist, which suspected that he was having homicidal thoughts and reported it a month before the crime to the police. He had told another student to stay away from him because he was “bad news” prior to the crim. He also had a notebook, but information is still unknown about what is written. Prior to the shooting he bought multiple guns, ammo, and booby-trapped his apartment. On July 20, 2012, Holmes went to the movie premier. It is said that he left the movie through the emergency exit, putting something to hold the door (which doesn’t make sense because alarms would have sounded). He went to his car, put on the gear, grabbed his weapons and went back into the theater. He set off gas or smoke canisters, and began shooting. The police arrested him by his car and he did not resist. After the arrest and at his first court appearance he was said to seem “dazed and confused”. At…