Military cancer. The service chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard testified this morning about the military’s sexual assault scandal during a packed Senate hearing. The chiefs all advocated against taking authority to prosecute assault cases away from commanders. Lawmakers want to allow military prosecutors to decide which cases to pursue, believing it will lessen the chance of a case getting dismissed prematurely. Victims say commanders routinely ignore complaints. A recent military survey revealed only 13 percent of sexual assault victims report their attacks. Army Gen. Ray Odierno described sexual assault and harassment as “a cancer within the force—a cancer that left untreated will destroy the fabric of our force.” Even so, he joined other chiefs in insisting military commanders could police their own.
Insanity plea. Mass shooting suspect James Holmes returned to a Colorado courtroom today to enter a plea to the charges against him—not guilty by reason of insanity. The trail isn’t scheduled to start until February, but prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Holmes’ defense team believes an insanity defense is his best chance of getting life in prison, if convicted. Holmes is charged with murdering 12 and injuring nearly 60 people who had packed into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., to watch the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Now that Holmes has entered his insanity plea, the state will conduct a psychiatric evaluation that could take months to complete. During a preliminary hearing in January, prosecutors presented evidence showing Holmes meticulously planned the assault, purchasing an assault rifle, shotgun, handguns, more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, and bomb-making materials and surveying the exterior of the theater complex in the weeks before the post-midnight shooting.
Trial delayed. A South African judge has delayed the murder trial of Olympian Oscar Pistorius until Aug. 19 so that investigators can wrap up the details of their case against him. Pistorius, the double amputee who captured the world’s attention when he competed against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 London games, is charged with murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The case has created a media frenzy, and the judge warned against “scandalous and possibly contemptuous” reporting that might taint the trial. On Friday, British satellite television station Sky News released images of the blood soaked crime scene, Pistorius’ bathroom. The athlete claims he shot Steenkamp by accident after mistaking her for a burglar. The prosecution alleges he killed her in cold blood after an hours-long fight.
Self-defense. On Monday, a Texas judge agreed to let Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan represent himself in his murder trial, which is scheduled to begin this week. But today, Hasan asked for a three month delay to give himself more time to prepare his defense. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at the Army base in Killeen, Texas. He has said he was trying to prevent the imminent death of Taliban fighters. Hasan plans to use a “defense of others” strategy, which requires defendants to prove they killed a person or people to protect others from immediate danger or death. The judge said she would not rule on his delay motion until Hasan provides evidence to support his defense strategy. He faces either the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.