June 19, 2013
Accused Colorado movie gunman hearing ends with no plea
Accused movie theater gunman James Holmes made a brief court appearance today, a day after he was ordered to face trial, but his lawyers asked for more time to prepare for a plea to charges he shot 12 people to death and wounded dozens of others.
As expected, a Colorado state court judge granted a defense request to postpone arraignment for the 25-year-old former neuroscience doctoral student to give his legal team more time to study the voluminous evidence and testimony presented by prosecutors in a preliminary hearing earlier this week.
Arraignment was set for March 12.
At the conclusion of Friday's brief proceedings, a spectator sitting in the section of the Arapahoe County district courtroom reserved for victims and their families shouted: "Rot in hell, Holmes!"
There was no visible reaction by Holmes, who was being led out of the courtroom.
The judge, William Sylvester, huddled with lawyers in the hallway and reconvened the hearing to admonish the spectator, Steve Hernandez, whose daughter, Rebecca Wingo, died in the massacre.
"I can only begin to imagine the emotions that are raging. I'm truly sorry for your loss," the judge told Hernandez, asking that he exert greater self control.
"I meant no disrespect to the court," Hernandez replied, promising "no further outbursts."
Sylvester ruled on Thursday that prosecutors had succeeded in establishing probable cause to believe that Holmes, described by his own lawyers as suffering from an unspecified mental illness, committed the crimes alleged against him and ordered that he remain held without bail to stand trial.
The ruling followed three days of wrenching testimony about the shooting, its bloody aftermath and the elaborate preparations that Holmes is accused of making for the attack.
The tragedy stands as one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history and one that ranked briefly as the most lethal in 2012 - until 20 children and six adults were killed last month at a Connecticut elementary school.