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James Holmes, Mug Shot

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office

Judge William P. Sylvester ruled Tuesday that Aurora theater shooting suspect, James Holmes, could change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

This news means that the defendant will take part in an independent mental health evaluation, which could take months to complete.

Holmes' defense team has asked that they be present for the sanity exams, claiming that their absence "negatively impacts the accuracy" of the tests.

Holmes originally entered a standard not-guilty plea after the Colorado judge denied his attorney's request for more time to build an insanity defense.

The one-time University of Colorado Ph.D. candidate was charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder (double the victim count due to special circumstances), 116 counts of attempted murder, possession of explosive devices and inciting violence.