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(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — A Colorado judge has accepted accused theater shooter James Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, a move that could spare him from the death penalty.

The decision sets in motion a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of Holmes, a process that could take months.

Holmes is accused of opening fire last July 20 during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and injuring another 70.

He faces a total of 166 counts, including murder and attempted murder. If tried and convicted of the murders, Holmes could face the death penalty. The insanity plea could help him avoid execution, if convicted.

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