Accused mass murderer James Holmes, 25, is allowed to change his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity, Judge Carlos Samour decided Tuesday. Holmes can still be found guilty if jurors decline to believe that he was insane when he murdered 12 people at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July 2012.
Colorado requires defendants who claim insanity to undergo a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. Whatever the defendant says during the evaluation can be used at trial, even if the insanity plea is rejected.
Holmes will be transferred to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, Colo., for evaluation, The Denver Post reports. Doctors at the facility could take months to evaluate Holmes and report back to the court.
A bearded, damp-haired Holmes attended the Tuesday court hearing and said "no" when Samour asked if he had any questions.
If Holmes does not fully cooperate with the medical inquest, his attorney would be unable to call mental health experts during the penalty phase of the trial, The Associated Press reports.
Judge Samour is also considering whether to allow into evidence a notebook Holmes mailed to University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynne Fenton before the shooting, The Post reports. The notebook was intercepted by police and reportedly contains plans for the massacre. A search warrant reported by ABC News in April said the notebook contained 20 burnt $20 bills and a sticky note with an infinity sign scrawled on it.
Holmes allegedly planned his assault in meticulous detail, purchasing weapons, ammunition, tear gas, body armor and materials to booby-trap his apartment.
At previous court appearances, Holmes did not submit a plea himself, with a "not guilty" plea submitted on his behalf by the presiding judge.
Attorneys representing Holmes unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the state's insanity plea process, saying the law would force Holmes to incriminate himself.
In March, Holmes, through his attorneys, offered to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors rebutted the offer, announcing in April they would seek the death penalty. "For James Eagan Holmes, justice is death," said Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler.