May 25, 2013
Horror of Colorado cinema massacre recalled at hearing
The former graduate student accused of shooting a dozen people to death at a Colorado movie theatre last summer sat impassively in court today as police recounted the nightmarish mix of blood, tear gas, screams and flashing strobe lights they found in the darkened cinema.
Outside the crowded theater, police confronted the accused gunman, James Holmes, wearing a helmet, gas mask and head-to-toe body armor, the officers testified. He surrendered without a struggle, they said, and apart from smirking when asked whether he had acted alone, Holmes seemed "detached" from the mayhem around him.
Testimony from the first officers to reach the chaotic crime scene opened a hearing in which prosecutors set out to convince a judge that they have enough evidence to put Holmes on trial for one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history.
The onetime University of Colorado doctoral student of neuroscience is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from a shooting rampage that left 12 dead and 58 wounded at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."
The so-called preliminary hearing is expected to last a week and offer the public its first detailed look into the investigation of the July 20 carnage in Aurora, a Denver suburb.
It also will give Holmes' lawyers an opportunity to call witnesses to testify about his mental state. They are expected to mount an insanity defense if the case goes to trial.
In one piece of evidence suggesting considerable advance planning for the attack, police detective Matthew Ingui displayed security-camera footage of Holmes in the theater lobby before the shooting as he scanned a movie ticket the investigator said Holmes had purchased 12 days earlier.
Shackled and wearing a crimson jumpsuit, a bearded Holmes sat expressionless at the defense table. Dark brown hair has replaced the dyed bright red hair the California native had when he was arrested.