After ruling that there was sufficient evidence to proceed with trail against James Holmes, a judge on Friday delayed the scheduled arraignment of the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting until March.
Judge William Sylvester of the Arapahoe County District Court ruled late Thursday that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence during a pre-trial hearing this week to hold Holmes for trial.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding more than 70 others during a shooting spree at an Aurora, Colo., theater showing "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20.
But Sylvester’s decision Friday to grant a defense motion delaying the formal arraignment means that Holmes, 25, will not have to enter a formal plea until March 12.
Prosecutors and family members of the shooting victims had objected to any delay in the proceedings.
Holmes’ defense team gave no reason in court for seeking the delay, but in reporting the delay the Associated Press suggested it could be to have the mental health of its client evaluated “by a doctor of their choosing.”
If the arraignment had proceeded on Friday, the mental-health evaluation would have been conducted by a state doctor, the AP said.
The delay in the proceedings brought angry reaction in the courtroom, with several family members and shooting victims storming out in protest.
Steve Hernandez, the father of Rebecca Wingo who was fatally shot in the spree, shouted "Rot in hell, Holmes" at the end of the hearing. Sylvester briefly reconvened the hearing, and Hernandez was brought before the judge by sheriff’s deputies, the New York Times reported.
"I’m terribly sorry for your loss, and I can only begin to imagine the emotions that are raging,” the judge told Hernandez.
"I meant no disrespect to the court your honor,” Hernandez told the judge, pledging no further outbursts