Holmes lawyers try to clear path for insanity plea

James Holmes appeared in court on May 13, 2013, to request a change of plea. Drawing courtesy of Bill Robles.
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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) -- Lawyers for Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes are asking a judge to clear away legal questions so Holmes can plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Holmes' lawyers argued Thursday that laws on insanity and the death sentence could potentially keep him from presenting expert testimony about his mental state during the penalty phase of his trial.

They want a ruling before Holmes agrees to conditions he must accept to plead insanity.

Prosecutors argue the laws are fair and their principles have been upheld by appeals courts. They also say it's too early to consider the matter.

The judge will announce before May 31 whether he'll rule on the questions.

Holmes is charged with killing 12 and injuring 70 at an Aurora theater.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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