Defence lawyers for the former graduate student accused of killing 12 people at a Colorado cinema last July have offered a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of life imprisonment, according to court documents.
Lawyers for James Holmes, 25, said in their filing on Wednesday that prosecutors have so far not accepted the offer, which would spare their client the death penalty.
Holmes is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the massacre at a showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado in which 58 people were also wounded. Prosecutor George Brauchler has said he would formally inform the court as to whether his office would seek the death penalty at during a hearing scheduled for Monday next week. In February, Brauchler announced that he had added a death penalty lawyer to the prosecution team.
All three of Colorado's death row inmates were convicted and sentenced in Arapahoe County, where Brauchler is chief prosecutor. At a state legislative hearing earlier in March, he testified in favour of keeping the death penalty in Colorado. Defence lawyers said in their filing that if prosecutors agree to take the death penalty off the table, the case could be resolved on Monday. They had been expected to mount an insanity defence.
"As previously stated in court, counsel for Mr Holmes are still exploring a mental health defence, and counsel will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defences at a trial or sentencing proceeding as necessary," the filing said.
"Nevertheless, Mr Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved." Lawyers for Holmes have said their client has been admitted to hospital twice since his arrest, once after hitting his head against a cell wall.
Holmes was also held in restraints for several days at a psychiatric hospital in November after jail officials determined he was a threat to himself, according to his defence team.