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Accused Colorado gunman could be medicated for psychiatric exams

Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes (L) sits with public defender Tamara Brady during his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorad
Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes (L) sits with public defender Tamara Brady during his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorad

DENVER (Reuters) - James Holmes, the man accused of murder in last summer's shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater, could be given "medically appropriate" drugs during psychiatric interviews and possibly face a polygraph test if he chooses to raise an insanity defense, the judge in the case said on Monday.

The ruling by Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester came a day before Holmes is scheduled to enter a plea in the case and over the objections of defense lawyers who have argued that Holmes should not be drugged while undergoing examinations by court-appointed psychiatrists.

Holmes is accused of multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the July shooting rampage that killed 12 moviegoers and wounded 58 others during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

Sylvester, in court documents released on Monday, said it would be "permissible to conduct a narcoanalytic interview of you with such drugs as are medically appropriate, and to subject you to polygraph examination."

Colorado law says that a defendant who pleads not guilty by reason of insanity must cooperate with court-appointed psychiatrists, which defense lawyers have said could violate Holmes' right not to incriminate himself.

The Colorado tragedy stands as one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history and one that ranked briefly as the most lethal in 2012 - until 20 children and six adults were killed in December at a Connecticut elementary school.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Leslie Adler)

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