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Local attorney weighs in on shooter defense

OKLAHOMA CITY– As police search for answers in the tragic Colorado shooting,  the defense team for the only suspect 24-year-old James Holmes is being assembled.

Attorneys around the country are weighing on the defense strategy, including those here in Oklahoma.

Attorney David Slane has represented suspects who have also been accused of murder.

Slane said, “You immediately would have a mental health evaluation to see if there is some sort of psychiatric problem.”

Attorneys often begin tracking everything first responders record from the scene.

“When you defend a person in this type of position, you have to see what were the immediate things they said at the time and you also have to listen to whatever they said immediately after. That’s because one of the tests for an insanity defense is finding out if the person understands right from wrong,” says Slane.

Once the mental evaluations are completed, examining if there were any stimulants that could have prompted certain actions often follows.

He says, “You have to be concerned about if he on drugs or alcohol. Why did this happen, those are the kind of things you have to immediately start talking about.”

Next, you have to look at motive and intention. 

“You would also want to see was there anyone in the movie theater that was actually a target of this? I don’t think anyone has talked about that yet.”

Slane says you also have to consider the worst possible outcome for the client.

He says, “You begin to be concerned about defending a death penalty case, especially in this situation. As a lawyer you’re thinking, what is it that we need to do to try to save this man’s life? Right now, that appears to be a pretty strong case.”

James O’Connor is head of the public defenders office and will likely lead the legal team.

Holmes’ attorneys are reportedly planning to have an advisement hearing on Monday.

Holmes has not been charged with anything at this time.

The defense has 72 hours.