May 25, 2013
Colorado massacre suspect silent in first court hearing
The man accused of killing a dozen people in a Colorado movie theater during a showing of the new "Batman" film made his first appearance in court today, sitting silently in a red jailhouse jump suit and with his hair dyed bright red.
James Eagan Holmes, 24, who was detained immediately after the massacre early on Friday morning, appeared groggy and emotionless during the brief hearing, looking straight ahead and occasionally closing his eyes. He was shackled at the wrists and ankles.
The judge said murder charges would be filed on Monday July 30.
Police say Holmes was dressed in body armor and toting three guns when he opened fire at a packed midnight screening of the new Batman movie at a theater complex in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Fifty-eight other people were hurt, and many of them have serious wounds.
Police say they are still searching for a motive for the crime.
Holmes was represented by a public defender during the brief hearing before Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester.
Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers has the task of deciding whether to seek the death penalty for Holmes. She has prosecuted two of the three inmates who are now on Colorado's death row.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama traveled to the suburb of 325,000 to offer comfort to families of the victims. He told them their loved ones would be remembered long after the justice system was done with the killer.
The dead included war veterans, an aspiring sportscaster who had barely escaped a shooting in a Toronto mall earlier this summer, and a 6-year-old girl.
The crime meets all the elements of Colorado capital case law, including premeditation, multiple victims, and the killing of a child, said former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman.
"If James Holmes isn't executed, Colorado may as well throw away its death penalty law," he said.
Many in Aurora have vowed to deny Holmes the publicity they believe he craves by not uttering his name.
"I refuse to say his name. In my house we're just going to call him Suspect A," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told a memorial on the steps of the suburb's municipal center on Sunday night. He captured a spirit of defiance voiced by citizens as well as religious and political leaders.
Holmes and his motives remained largely a mystery, with past associates saying he displayed no hints of a mental illness or violent tendencies.
He was armed with a Smith & Wesson M&P .223 semi-automatic rifle, similar to an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock .40-caliber handgun. Police found an additional Glock .40-caliber handgun in his car. All the weapons had been bought legally.
He is in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners. Holmes had recently dropped out of a doctoral degree program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical School, a few blocks from his apartment.