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The decision to use it has been very controversial

A Colorado judge will allow prosecutors to interrogate theater gunman James Holmes using truth serum if he pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

Holmes is the suspected gunman involved in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado last July. Holmes has been charged with multiple counts of murder for the open shooting, which killed 12 people and injured another 58.

Colorado Judge William Sylvester ruled that prosecutors have the choice to use truth serum on Holmes in a "narcoanalytic interview" to determine whether or not he was legally insane during the July 20 shooting last year. But this is only if Holmes pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

A plea of not guilty had been entered for Holmes yesterday after his lawyer said that the defendant was not ready to enter his own plea. Holmes can later change it.


Legal experts have questioned Judge Sylvester's ruling, saying that taking away the fifth amendment rights of the defendant because of an authorization to use truth serum drugs will raise a lot of fifth amendment-related issues.

Also, a jury may object to the court forcing truth serum upon the defendant.

Medical experts have weighed in as well, saying that the defendant still has the ability to lie while using truth serum. They also said that truth serum would be effective at determining Holmes' current state of mind, but a short-acting barbiturate like truth serum would not indicate his state of mind during last year's shooting. It will only loosen him up to talk about it.

"First of all, people can still lie under the influence of amytal," said Dr. August Piper, a psychiatrist from Seattle. "More importantly, the person under the influence of the drug is susceptible to outside suggestion. To try and do this would be unlikely to yield useful information, and could pervert the course of justice by rendering the defendant susceptible to pressure."

It's unclear exactly which drug will be used, but experts predict short-acting sodium amytal.

Sources: NPR, CBS News



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Unnecessary complication
By brucek2 on 3/14/2013 12:08:15 AM , Rating: 2
Why complicate a straightforward case by adding a controversial 'proof' element that is not needed, probably doesn't prove anything anyway, but may create a new element that could be appealed or could cause problems for a juror.

Even if these drugs had been exhaustively studied on 'normal' people (which they haven't?), it isn't hard to believe this guy has wiring that's somewhat different and any general purpose study won't apply anyway.

Finally, it just sounds icky and prone to abuse. Here we know the guy's the killer in any event. But are we really going to accept this as a regular form of crime investigation? If one effect of the drug is to render people suggestible, could police (even inadvertently) end up suggesting to innocent people that they were in fact guilty when they weren't?




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