Suspect In Aurora Mass Shooting Makes Initial Appearance In Court
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – The suspect in Friday’s mass shooting in Aurora appeared before an Arapahoe County judge Monday morning with reddish-orange hair and a dazed look.
James Holmes, 24, is suspected of killing 12 people on Friday and leaving more than 50 more hurt, including seven who remained in critical condition Monday morning.
Holmes appeared listless during the hearing, sitting next to his appointed public defender. At various points he opened his eyes very wide. He made no eye contact with anyone, not even his own attorney. At times he looked bored, disinterested and dazed during the 15 minute initial advisement hearing.
“The duty judge has made a preliminary determination of probable cause to believe you’ve committed the offense of first-degree murder which is a Class I felony under Colorado law. Ordinarily individuals are entitled to bail. Given the nature of the charges, you are currently being held on a on a no-bond hold,” Chief Judge William B. Sylvester said.
60 Minutes legal analyst Andrew Cohen tweeted about Holmes’ appearance: “James Holmes’ demeanor, appearance in court presage competency defense. Look for mental health evaluation to soon be requested by defense. … Not uncommon for defendants in Holmes’ situation to be medicated in advance of hearing. But mental health issues raised by his appearance. … Note how quickly defense attorneys in Colorado mass shooting case sought protection against prejudicial pretrial publicity.”
Colorado defense attorney David Lane said there was a significant possibility Holmes was medicated.
“Under the law, if the jail sees that he’s actively psychotic, they cannot ignore his obvious serious medical needs,” Lane said.
So far Holmes has refused to cooperate with police who have tried to get him to talk about the crime. He had been held in solitary confinement over the weekend.
Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers has said she is considering the death penalty in the case, but will consult with family members before making that decision.
“I don’t think this was a case that could be made in the abstract. There is so much that victims take into account and victims will be impacted by that decision in enormous ways if the death penalty is sought,” Chambers said after Holmes’ appearance.
“That is a very long process that impacts their lives for years. So they will want to have and we will want to get their input before any decision is made.”
Some of the victims’ families were in the courtroom on Monday morning, including the father of Alex Teves, who was killed. CBS4’s Brian Maass reports that father locked his gaze on Holmes from his position in the front row and mouthed words he hoped perhaps Holmes would hear. But Holmes appeared completely oblivious to anyone and everything around him.
David Sanchez, whose son-in-law was shot in the head during the attack, was in the front row of the courtroom..
“(It) felt like I could feel the pain that was going on in there, which really makes you more angry about this man who decided to take everybody’s lives,” Sanchez said.
Courthouse security was extraordinary with deputies on rooftops and other deputies dotting the perimeter of the courthouse. But inside all eyes were on the suspect, who did not make eye contact with anyone.
One victim wounded in the movie attack said Holmes looked like a pathetic freak.
Prosecutors will file formal charges against Holmes in a court hearing that’s scheduled for next Monday.
Holmes allegedly told police after he was arrested at the back of the Century 19 theater that he was “The Joker,” a villain in the Batman movie series. The shootings took place during a midnight showing of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The graduate student at the University of Colorado Anschutz campus in neuroscience previously had black hair, but dyed it orange at some point before the shooting. A post he apparently made on the website AdultFriendFinder showed him with orange hair and seeking a relationship with someone who would date him “in prison.”