Aurora theater shooting suspect to plead insanity
by John Ingold
James Holmes wants to plead not guilty by reason of insanity to the killing of 12 people and the wounding of 58 others in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater attack.
In a filing Tuesday, Holmes' lawyers wrote they intend to "tender a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity." Holmes would need the judge's permission to change his plea.
The notice filed Tuesday starts a series of dominoes in the case.
Because a judge entered a standard not guilty plea on behalf of Holmes and over the objection of Holmes' attorneys at arraignment, Holmes' attorneys will have to show "good cause" why they should be allowed to change the plea to insanity.
If the plea change is allowed, the judge will immediately order Holmes to undergo an independent mental-health evaluation something that could potentially take months.
Meanwhile, Holmes' lawyers will now likely re-submit their complaints that Colorado's system for insanity pleas in death-penalty cases is unconstitutional. They have previously argued, for instance, that requiring Holmes to participate in the mental-health evaluation would violate his rights against self-incrimination. The judges overseeing the case, though, rejected those arguments at the time because Holmes hadn't yet actually pleaded insanity.
In the notice Tuesday, Holmes' lawyers write they made the filing, "[w]hile maintaining all previous objections and arguments regarding the constitutionality" of the insanity-plea laws.
Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other offenses for the July 20 attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater. His attorneys have previously hinted that Holmes' mental illness would feature prominently in his defense.
"[T]he reason the defense is considering entering an (insanity) plea is because Mr. Holmes suffers from a serious mental illness," his lawyers wrote in a motion filed late last month.
Shooting survivors and family members of victims, however, have said they are suspicious of Holmes' claims of mental illness, citing, for instance, the detailed planning Holmes allegedly put into the attack.
"He's a hollow person, very evil," Jessica Watts, the cousin of slain theater victim Jonathan Blunk, said after Holmes' arraignment in March. "He's absolutely not insane. ... Just, he doesn't seem like he does a whole lot to help himself. He doesn't seem real interested in what's going on in his own future."
Conspiracy suspect's dad: 'He is not a terrorist'
The father of a student charged with conspiracy in the Boston Marathon bombing case insists his son is not a terrorist and said the 19-year-old believes his friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is "not a human" if he's responsible for the attacks.
Amir Ismagulov, the father of Azamat Tazhayakov, told The Associated Press Tuesday that he has visited his son once since arriving in the United States from Kazakhstan more than a week ago. He said he left flowers several times at a memorial near the Boston Marathon finish line at his son's request.
"Azamat loves the United States and the people of the United States," Ismagulov said as Arkady Bukh, his son's new Russian-speaking lawyer, translated for him. "He is not aggressive. He is not a terrorist. He is a simple boy."
Tazhayakov is in a federal prison on charges that he conspired to destroy, conceal and cover up objects belonging to Tsarnaev, a college friend from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty.
Tsarnaev and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are accused of carrying out the April 15 bombings using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards. The attack killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Tamerlan was killed in a gun battle with police; Dzhokhar was captured and is in a prison hospital.
Ismagulov, 46, who works in the oil field business in Kazakhstan, said his son told him if the bombings were Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's work, "then he's not a human."
Also Tuesday, FBI director Robert Mueller discussed the bombing investigation with his Russian counterparts during a trip to Moscow. The U.S. and Russia have been collaborating on a criminal investigation into the two suspects.
U.S. law enforcement officials have been trying to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was indoctrinated or trained by militants during a 2012 visit to Dagestan, a Caspian Sea province that has become the center of a simmering Islamic insurgency.
And by day's end, there still was no resolution about where to bury Tsarnaev.
An aide to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he did not want him buried in Boston and that the remains should go back to Russia.
Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan has said none of the 120 offers of graves from the U.S. and Canada have worked out because officials in those cities and towns don't want the body.
Tazhayakov's father described his son as an engineering student who was "happy in life" before "in one day, his life was shattered." He said Tazhayakov told him "it took days to get out of the shock because of the accusations" against him.
Bukh, a New York City lawyer from the former Soviet Union, now represents Tazhayakov and said Tazhayakov 's family is "absolutely devastated" over the bombings.
He stressed that Tazhayakov was cooperating with the government before his arrest last week.
The lawyer said his client handed over Tsarnaev's laptop to the FBI on April 19 after he and friend Dias Kadyrbayev learned that federal agents were looking for them. Kadyrbayev also is charged with obstruction of justice in the bombing case.
A third college friend, Robel Phillipos, was released on $100,000 bond Monday while he awaits trial for allegedly lying to federal investigators.
Tazhayakov's next court date is May 14, and Bukh said arguing for his release would be a "problematic issue" in part because immigration agents could try to detain him again even if he satisfies bail conditions.
Authorities initially charged Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev with violating the terms of their student visas while attending UMass Dartmouth.
Immigration officials said Tuesday that they have temporarily suspended the immigration court proceedings against the two men, but will continue the immigration removal process after their criminal cases are resolved.
The FBI has alleged that on April 18, just hours after surveillance camera photos of the Tsarnaev brothers were made public, the three students went to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room and removed his backpack and laptop computer.
Authorities said one of them later threw the backpack in the garbage, and it wound up in a landfill, where it was discovered by law enforcement officers. In the backpack were fireworks that had been emptied of their gunpowder.
Bukh said the criminal complaint alleges it was Kadyrbayev, and not his client, who threw away the backpack with the fireworks.
Ismagulov said his son told him he never intended to help Tsarnaev hide evidence. He also said Tazhayakov wasn't sure if Tsarnaev was one of the suspects in the photos that were released because those images weren't high quality.
"He would never intend to do anything bad to people in the United States," Ismagulov said of his son.
He said he has left flowers at the memorial site because his son asked him "to express condolences to innocent people who were hurt and killed."
_ In other developments, the administrator of the One Fund Boston charity said potential recipients should have low expectations because the $28 million fund won't pay out nearly enough to fully compensate the families of those who died or who suffered injuries.
Attorney Kenneth Feinberg said at a public meeting Tuesday in Boston that his draft plan for distributing the money reserves the highest payments for the families of those killed at the marathon and for the relatives of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who authorities say the bombing suspects killed.
Congressional delegation notifies state and local law enforcement of federal grant opportunities
COPS grants assist state and local law enforcement agencies with staffing and training needs
Sen. Tom Carper and Sen. Chris Coons, and Congressman John Carney have notified Delaware's state and local law enforcement agencies of two federal grant opportunities available through the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services Program. The two grant programs now in an open application period include the COPS Hiring Program and the Community Policing Development Program. CHP applications must be submitted before 8 p.m., Wednesday, May 22. The deadline for CPD applications is 5 p.m., Friday, May 24.
Last month's tragic events in Boston remind us of just how important state and local law enforcement is for our communities, said Carper. The COPS programs can help Delaware's state and local law enforcement agencies hire more police officers to keep our communities safe and prevent dangerous crimes. I encourage any police department in the First State looking to boost the capacity of their force to apply for these helpful federal grants.
As the tragic events in Boston unfolded last month, our country witnessed the critical role police officers have at containing a disaster and apprehending the criminal, Coons, chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, said. Every day our officers put their lives on the line to protect our communities from danger. It's funding like the COPS Hiring Program that ensures our police departments are adequately staffed and have the resources they need to hire and retain officers. I hope police departments across Delaware will apply for this important grant program that will help keep our neighborhoods safe.
The tragic events in Boston provided yet another reminder of the critical role first responders play in our daily lives. Keeping our communities safe must be the top priority, said Carney. The grants made available through the COPS program gives law enforcement the staff, training, and resources they need to protect our neighborhoods and themselves. I urge any state or local police department looking for such support to apply.
The COPS Hiring Program is a competitive grant that provides funding directly to state and local law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire additional officers in support of community policing and crime prevention efforts. Awardees may receive up to 75 percent of the approved entry-level salaries and fringe benefits of each newly hired and/or rehired full-time officer, up to $125,000 per officer position, over a three-year grant period.
More information can be found at http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/Default.asp?Item=2367
Community Policing Development Program funds are used to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance, the development and documentation of innovative community policing strategies, applied research, guidebooks and best practices that are national in scope. The program is open to all government agencies, profit and nonprofit institutions, universities, community groups and faith-based organizations. Proposals should be of national relevance, significantly advance the field of community policing and demonstrate an understanding of community policing as it pertains to the application topic.
For more information, visit: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/Default.asp?Item=2682
Top 10 Things Law Enforcement Says About ICE
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) protects the United States by promoting homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. To accomplish this mission, ICE conducts multi-faceted federal law enforcement operations and repatriates individuals wanted by its foreign law enforcement partners.
Below are some of the sentiments expressed about ICE by a number of its law enforcement partners from around the globe.
"Mr. Morton was the one who coordinated with police from eight countries to deliver one of the most powerful blows in narcotics trafficking history. Thank you very much." Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
"I would like to congratulate and thank the authorities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their continual support and professional work." Guatemalan Consul General in Chicago Gustavo A. Lopez.
"ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations assets assigned to the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force have been invaluable." Supervisory Inspector Billy Holmes, U.S. Marshals Service, Florida and Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, Orlando, Fla.
"I commend ICE agents for their work. Their diligent efforts kept this heroin off our streets and led to the successful prosecution of drug dealers." U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Kerry Harvey
"I commend the investigators from Homeland Security Investigations who have led Operation Sunflower. They are making our communities safer for our children." U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin B. Wagner
"We always hear about the coordination between federal and local law enforcement, but we don't often have the opportunity to see it in action. This suspect's capture is a phenomenal example of how personal relationships pay off. When we called HSI and asked for assistance, they didn't ask 'what for,' all they said is 'what can we do?'" Redondo Beach Police Chief Joe Leonardi
"Teamwork between law enforcement agencies is vital to efficient and effective criminal investigations. ... This is a great example of how cooperation can lead to arrests and prosecution. Thank you again to your agency and the individual agents involved in the case." Virginia Chief of Police David M. Rohrer, Fairfax County
"The city of South San Francisco wishes to thank HSI for its assistance in the investigation and arrest of the 19 members of the criminal street gang responsible for many gang-related crimes, including a triple homicide in December 2010. HSI's collaboration with the South San Francisco Police Department was instrumental in bringing this case to a successful conclusion. This investigation underscores what positive outcomes can happen when local law enforcement works in collaboration with our partners in the federal system." South San Francisco Police Chief Michael Massoni
"The Baker County Sheriff's Office believes in four core values; they are integrity, professionalism, care and courtesy. These values are part of us and are reflected in our work. During our day-to-day activities with ICE we have come to realize that they too share our core values. We enjoy a superb relationship (with) the staff of both the Jacksonville and the Orlando offices. We feel a "kindred spirit" with the ICE staff and strive to accomplish the mission of both agencies. These comments are heartfelt by me and shred by the men and women of the Baker County Sheriff's Office. We look forward to a continued partnership." Baker County Sheriff Joey B. Dobson, Florida
"We applaud our partners at ICE for their worldwide work in identifying victims of child sexual exploitation and for helping to remove these children from extremely dangerous situations. We thank Director Morton and everyone at ICE for their strong commitment to rescuing the most vulnerable of victims." John Ryan, CEO for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children