James Holmes, the student accused of shooting 12 people at a Colorado cinema, made his first court appearance Monday, but remained silent and apparently dazed. The prosecutor’s office has said that he may face the death penalty.
AP - A former doctoral student accused of a deadly shooting rampage at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Colorado appeared in court for the first time Monday, but he didn’t seem to be there at all.
Unshaven and appearing dazed, James Holmes sat virtually motionless, his brown hair dyed a shocking shade of orange. It was the world’s first glimpse of the 24-year-old since Friday’s shooting left 12 dead and 58 injured in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Holmes didn’t say a word.
Prosecutors said later they didn’t know if Holmes was on medication.
Authorities have said he is being held in isolation. His demeanor appeared to anger the relatives of some of the victims who attended the hearing and stared at him the entire time.
Holmes, whom police say was clad in body armor and armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and handguns during the attack, was refusing to cooperate in the investigation, authorities said. They said it could take months to learn what prompted the attack.
Holmes is expected to be formally charged next Monday. He is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
Prosecutor Carol Chambers said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty against Holmes. She said a decision will be made in consultation with victims’ families.
Relatives of the shooting victims leaned forward in their seats to catch their first glimpse of him. Two women held hands tightly, one shaking her head.
David Sanchez, who waited outside the courthouse during the hearing, said his pregnant daughter escaped uninjured but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition.
Asked what punishment Holmes should get if convicted, Sanchez said, “I think death is.”
His daughter was delivering her baby on Monday.
As investigators tried to piece together Holmes’ life and apparent breakdown, his family was scheduled to speak Monday afternoon.
A lawyer representing members of Holmes’ family, Lisa Damian, planned to hold a news conference in San Diego.
Police have said Holmes began buying guns nearly two months before the shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school.
Holmes recently bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
Holmes’ apartment was filled with trip wires, explosive devices and unknown liquids, requiring police, FBI officials and bomb squad technicians to evacuate surrounding buildings while spending most of Saturday disabling the booby traps.
Investigators found a Batman mask inside his apartment, a law enforcement official close to the investigation said Sunday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.
Soon after the shooting, some reports said Holmes’ hair was red and he called himself “The Joker” when he was arrested. “The Joker” is one of Batman’s enemies in the fictional Gotham and has brightly colored hair.
Officials at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether Holmes used his position in a neuroscience graduate program to collect hazardous materials.
His reasons for quitting the program in June remained a mystery. Holmes recently took an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year. University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
Meanwhile, the owner of a gun range told The Associated Press that Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member because of his behavior and a “bizarre” message on his voicemail.
When owner Glenn Rotkovich called to invite Holmes to a mandatory orientation, he said he heard a message on Holmes’ voicemail that was “ guttural, freakish at best.”
Rotkovich told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the orientation and not to accept him into the club.
The pastor for the suspect’s family recalled a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically.
“He wasn’t an extrovert at all. If there was any conversation, it would be because I initiated it, not because he did,” said Jerald Borgie, who last spoke with Holmes about six years ago.
Date created : 2012-07-23