- Created on 12 March 2013
(CNN) -- The sanity of James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting suspect, may be a major issue at his arraignment Tuesday.
In court documents, Holmes' attorneys have suggested that they may enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting rampage at the theater that left 12 people dead and 58 injured on July 20.
Prosecutors have not said whether they'll pursue the death penalty against Holmes. But an insanity plea could make such a move harder, said David Beller, an attorney who is not connected to the case.
"There are a few reasons they wouldn't go for the death penalty; the most important one being his mental state," Beller said. "The Supreme Court, and really society, has been very clear: We don't execute people who are mentally ill."
Family members of some of those who died in the shooting are not happy.
Jessica Watts, whose cousin was killed, said she does not believe Holmes is insane.
"Absolutely not. This was months and months of planning and thousands of dollars spent on his part in order to pull this horrific night off," she said.
Federal agents have said Holmes began buying guns in May 2012, two months before the attack. He allegedly built an arsenal of two Glock handguns, an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and 6,295 rounds of ammunition.
In addition, authorities contend, the former University of Colorado doctoral student dyed his hair fiery orange and apparently visited the AMC movie theater, taking photographs of hallways and doors, two weeks before the shooting.
According to the Colorado Bar Association, an insanity defense refers to "a person who is so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act is not accountable."
If Holmes' enters such a plea, he would waive all medical confidentiality and will have to turn over the name of any doctor or psychologist who may have treated him, according to Colorado law.
"If he enters the not guilty by reason of insanity plea, he's going to be examined by state doctors and any statement he makes to those state doctors are given to the prosecution for potential use later," Beller said.
On Monday, a judge ruled that Holmes will also have to agree to be drugged by doctors to assess his condition if he enters an insanity plea.
Earlier this month, Holmes' lawyers tried to have Colorado's insanity defense laws changed.
The attorneys asked the judge to rule parts of the state's insanity defense laws unconstitutional.
Among other issues, they cited the requirement that a defendant "cooperate" with examining psychiatrists as a violation of the defendant's privilege against compelled self-incrimination.
Holmes is charged with a total of 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges.
Authorities say he booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, then traveled to the movie theater armed with four weapons, tear gas and body armor planning to kill audience members during a screening of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises."
Witnesses who have spoken to CNN about the shooting have said the gunman roamed the theater, shooting randomly as people tried to scramble away or cowered between seats.
Among the 41 calls to 911, one stands out. In the 27-second call, at least 30 shots can be heard amid the chaos.
At his preliminary hearing in January, police who responded described hellish scenes inside the theater and described finding Holmes, dressed in body armor, standing outside, seeming "detached from it all," according to Officer Jason Oviatt.
At the conclusion of the brief hearing, the father of one of the victim's shouted out, "Rot in hell, Holmes."
Jim Spellman reported from Colorado; Lateef Mungin wrote from Atlanta.
- Created on 12 March 2013
Brooklyn teens erupted into fiery protest Monday night in response to the murder of 16-year-old Kimani Gray by NYPD officers, reports the Daily Mail.
The 16-year-old boy was hanging out with friends Saturday night when they were approached by undercover officers who allegedly asked him to show his hands. Authorities claim that it...
- Created on 08 March 2013
Journalist Karen Jordan, a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford University, is currently researching the lives of her great-great-grandfather, who was the first Black doctor in Houston, Texas, and her great-grandfather, the first Black doctor in Coweta County near Atlanta. Both men were originally from Troup County, Georgia, and attended Clark Atlanta University. This is their story.
Meharry Medical College has graduated at least 15 percent of all Black doctors in the United States, according to the Nashville-based university history, many the sons of slaves. Georgia native John Henry Jordan was one of them and his story is still being told 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
Jordan was born in Hogansville, Ga., to Berry and Isabella Jordan. After being freed from slavery, Berry Jordan became a sharecropper. He expected his son to do the same, but John Jordan had other plans. Even though he knew little about the world beyond the backbreaking work of picking cotton, he decided there had to be something better. Helping people overcome illness was his goal, perhaps fueled by the fact his own mother died when he was just two years old.
By the age of 10, Jordan found a role model: Dr. Edward Ramsey, Troup County's first Black physician. Ramsey, an 1880 graduate of Meharry Medical College (known as Central Tennessee College at the time), was himself a Hogansville native.
Jordan modeled his path after Ramsey's, enrolling at Clark Atlanta University (formerly Clark College) before being accepted to Meharry Medical College. It was a victory for Jordan even though his own father was adamantly opposed to his plans.
Undeterred, Jordan relocated to Tennessee. Eager to learn, he excelled in the classroom but later faced a dilemma common to many students today: a lack of funds. By the fall of 1894, unable to pay his tuition, he had to drop out of school. Although humiliated, he persevered, working odd jobs for months to raise money for his tuition. He finally returned to school a year later, making his graduation in 1896 as valedictorian of his class that much sweeter. By the time he went back to Hogansville after graduation, the town was badly in need of a Black physician. Dr. Ramsey had relocated to Houston, Texas, becoming the first Black doctor to practice medicine there.
While John was anxious to prove his father wrong, his days in Troup County were a struggle. It was difficult for those he knew to accept him as a doctor, so he taught school by day to earn a living, becoming what was known as a "sundown doctor," referring to physicians who worked other jobs during the day while practicing medicine at night.
After two years, Jordan had had enough. He relocated to Newnan, becoming the first Black doctor in Coweta County, and married Dr. Ramsey's daughter, Mollie, the same year.
Jordan's career flourished in Newnan. He built the first Black hospital in the county. After the tragic crib death of their infant son, he and Mollie welcomed another son, Edward, in 1900, making their family complete.
Some Newnan residents in recent years could still recall Edward's birth.
"It was like a prince being born," they said.
Life seemed perfect until one day tragedy struck. Jordan was on his way to make a house call when his car stalled. While he checked the gas tank, a passerby lit a match, causing the gasoline fumes to explode, burning John's upper torso. He died 72 hours later. He was 42. His death "was mourned by both races and all classes of citizens," according to the History of Coweta County, Georgia.
Not only were his own dreams snuffed out that night, but his dream of his only son becoming a doctor was never realized. However, 30 years later, Edward's son picked up the torch. Karen's father, Dr. Harold Jordan, graduated from Meharry Medical College and established a career at the university that has lasted for nearly 50 years.
- Created on 11 March 2013
- Created on 07 March 2013
Already a hero to many, this summer civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis will take on bad guys in his very own graphic novel. The comic is called "March" and it is a first-hand account of Lewis' work and struggle for civil rights that the congressman co-authored himself.
"March" includes his key roles in the historic 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March as well as a brief history of Lewis' life.
"Meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation," Lewis' character, "also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement," says the office of John Lewis.
The comic is a collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, who is a winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for his comic work on "Swallow Me Whole" and a NY Times Bestseller for "The Silence of Our Friends."
The comic won't just be a one-off, though. Lewis' office reports the trio are planning to make "March" a graphic novel trilogy that will be released by Georgia-based publisher Top Shelf Productions, a company known for the award-winning works of Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, and Jeff Lemire.
March is a historic first, both for the U.S. Congress and for comics publishing as a whole, marking the first time a sitting member of Congress has authored a graphic novel. Top Shelf Productions is the first and only graphic novel publisher to be certified by the House Committee on Standards.
The first volume, "March (Book One)," will appear in stores everywhere on August 13, two weeks before the country is set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom.
For more information and a 14-page preview of the graphic novel, visit http://www.topshelfcomix.com/march.