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Judge accepts James Holmes' insanity plea in Aurora shooting

The not guilty by reason of insanity plea sets the stage for a lengthy mental evaluation for Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes.

James Holmes 2012 07-27Enlarge
James Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injured 58 others during a shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. (RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images)

A judge on Tuesday accepted Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes' decision to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

The decision sets the stage for a mental evaluation that could take months to complete.

More from GlobalPost: James Holmes to plea not guilty by reason of insanity in Aurora, Colorado, shooting case

Holmes first asked to change his plea in early May, sparking a weeks-long debate over whether he should be allowed to do so and the constitutionality of Colorado's laws for insanity pleas.

He is accused of opening fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and injuring 70 during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

More from GlobalPost: James Holmes' lawyers offer guilty plea to avoid death penalty in Aurora shootings

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes' attorneys have repeatedly argued he is mentally ill, and his insanity plea is seen by some at his best shot at avoiding execution.

Prior to the July 20 massacre, Holmes had been seeing a therapist named Dr. Lynne Fenton. According to court documents, he threatened her repeatedly in text messages and sent her a journal about a week before the shooting.

Holmes' trial is scheduled to begin in February, according to the Denver Post.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130604/judge-accepts-insanity-plea-james-holmes-aurora-