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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Colorado shooting lawyers tussle over sanity evidence

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 23:51 Published in National News

   CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Colorado theater shooting case are battling over what evidence can be admitted during James Holmes' murder trial — all in an attempt to build up or tear down the case that he was insane.

   On Thursday, they are scheduled to argue over statements Holmes made to police after he was arrested after the July 2012 shootings and taken to a police station.

   On Wednesday, they sparred over evidence seized from Holmes' car and computers. That included signs that one computer was allegedly used for an Internet search on the words "rational insanity," and photos on his cellphone of himself holding firearms.

   "The issue is, was he sane or insane at the time," said Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor now in private practice.

   Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder. His attorneys have acknowledged he was the shooter in the massacre, which killed 12 people and injured 70 at a suburban Denver theater, but they say he was in the midst of a psychotic episode at the time.

   Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and to have Holmes executed, Colorado law requires that they first convince the jury that Holmes was legally sane — that he knew the shootings were wrong.

   The defense has been fighting to exclude any evidence that prosecutors might use to make that point, such as researching definitions of insanity or planning the attack.

   On Wednesday, Holmes' lawyers argued the evidence from his car should be thrown out because police didn't get a warrant before searching it. They said evidence from the computers should be tossed because a search warrant was overly broad.

   Prosecutors said police had no time to seek a warrant to search the car because they feared it might contain explosives or hazardous material that threatened officers and the public. They introduced a photo showing the location of Holmes' car outside the Aurora theater and called law-enforcement officers to testify to the potential threat.

   Holmes' trial is scheduled to start in February.

Obama signs bill to avert default, open government

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 23:41 Published in National News

   WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a measure into law reopening the federal government and averting a potential default.

   The White House says Obama signed the bill early Thursday, hours after the House gave final approval.

   The White House budget office has already instructed federal workers to plan to return to work Thursday morning.

   The measure restores funding for the government through Jan. 15 and extends the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

   The partial government shutdown started Oct. 1. The U.S. was to reach its debt limit Thursday if no deal was reached.

   As the deal neared final passage in the House Wednesday, Obama said it was now time for leaders in Washington to win back the trust of Americans that was lost during the debt-and-spending crisis.

Court: Anti-Missouri Tigers license plate OK

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 03:33 Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A state appeals court says a Missouri man who roots for the University of Kansas Jayhawks may keep his personalized license plate expressing disdain for the University of Missouri Tigers.

   The Administrative Hearing Commission last year rejected an effort by Missouri's Revenue Department to recall Toby Gettler's plate, which reads "MZU SUX." The Revenue Department had issued the plate, but tried to recall it on the ground that "SUX" is obscene.

   Gettler presented evidence, including a dictionary definition, that the word has gained common usage as slang for "subpar or inadequate."

   The Missouri Court of Appeals' Western District upheld the hearing commission's decision in Gettler's favor. The appellate court said there is evidence to support the commission's determination.

 

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