09/09/2013 04:37 pm ET Updated Sep 09, 2013

Secret James Holmes Mental Health Report Completed, Given To Court


DENVER -- A report detailing the mental health of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes has been completed and sent to the court, according to new documents filed in the shooting case -- the contents of which will be kept from the public as the report has been ordered to be suppressed by the case judge.

The court received an encrypted, electronic copy of the 128-page report from the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo on Monday. The mental health assessment was completed by an unknown number of doctors at CMHIP and the exact extent of the battery of tests that Holmes had to submit to in the evaluation is also unknown. However, back in June, CMHIP Superintendent William May said that the sanity evaluation of Holmes will probably be conducted by one psychiatrist and two psychologists.

Court records indicate that the completed mental health assessment is only to be reviewed by the prosecutors and defense attorneys involved in the case.

More from The Associated Press on the significance of the report:

The report will say whether the psychiatrist who led the evaluation - who works for the state mental hospital - believes Holmes meets Colorado's legal definition of insanity: the inability to tell the difference between right and wrong because of a mental disease or defect.

Very few people qualify, even if they have been diagnosed with mental illness, said Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"The diagnosis itself doesn't give someone a get-out-of-jail card," said Pitt, who isn't working on the Aurora case.

If the state psychiatrist's report concludes Holmes was insane, prosecutors are more likely to accept a bargain that would put Holmes in prison for life with no possibility of parole in exchange for a guilty plea, said Dan Recht, an attorney and past president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

Although the details of the evaluation are not clear, Superintendent May said that institute staff had been poring through an "extraordinary amount of documentation" and would not make the original July 31 deadline the judge set for finishing Holmes' mental health evaluation, Reuters reported.

Attorneys have said that the evidence in the case takes up nearly 40,000 pages.

The judge agreed to extend the evaluation period until mid-September.

Holmes entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on June 4, 2013, which triggered the court to order CMHIP to conduct a sanity examination and prepare a report. The theater shooting suspect arrived at CMHIP in August and it remains unclear how long he will remain there.

A gag order in the case made it impossible for staff to comment on Holmes, however the Pueblo Chieftain discovered that the institute has emptied an entire ward in the forensic unit to house Holmes by himself under extremely tight security.

In July, attorneys for Holmes admitted that he killed 12 people and wounded 70 others in the Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012, but that he was "in the throes of a psychotic episode" at the time.

The results of Holmes' mental health evaluation are critical for his defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.

"It's probably the most important expert witness that we have at this point," said Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor who is now in private practice and teaches at the University of Denver, to the AP. Steinhauser is not involved in Holmes' case.



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