Eyes rolling, head swaying and that bright red Joker hair: Colorado killer faces victims” families in bizarre first appearance in courtJames Holmes, 24, accused of shooting dead 12 and wounding 58Appeared unemotional and bleary-eyed at Arapahoe Country CourthouseComes after reports that he was spitting on the floor inside jail and “thought he was acting in a movie”
Formal charges will be filed against Holmes next Monday
Prosecutors said they will seek death penalty on advice of family membersLegal experts: Defense likely to pursue insanity defense
The gunman suspected of brutally slaying 12 moviegoers during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado has appeared in court for the first time looking disheveled and wide-eyed.
James Holmes, 24, who reportedly told police he dyed his hair red to look like Batman”s nemesis The Joker, looked straight ahead in Arapahoe County Courthouse as the judge advised him of the case.
The dye he used before embarking on the massacre that killed 12 and left 58 wounded had begun to turn orange, yellow and his natural brown – to the shock of the court.
The judge told Holmes he is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder. He added that the suspected gunman must not have any contact with any surviving victims or relatives of victims.
In court: James Holmes, who is suspected of killing 12 and wounding 58 in a shooting spree, looked disheveled during his court appearance. He sat next to his public defender Tamara Brady
His first court appearance came as prosecutors said they would be seeking the death penalty with the support of the victims” families.
Holmes, wearing a dark red prison issue top with ‘Arapahoe County Jail’ written on its back, was brought into the court by two security guards with six more standing in the room.
He sat in a chair next at the front of the court and struggled to his feet when asked to stand as the judge entered as if he were exhausted.
After reading Holmes his rights, Judge William Sylvester said there was “probable cause” to charge him with First Degree Murder and denied him bail.
Holmes” lawyer Daniel King told the court that the defense was not yet ready for “scientific tests”, which suggests Holmes could be being lined up for a mental health test.
Throughout the advisement, Holmes satnext to Tamara Brady, his assigned public defender. While suspects often interact with their public defenders about the judge”s address, Holmes sat silently.
Despondent: Holmes, who dyed his hair to appear like Batman”s nemesis The Joker, looks down in court
Bleary-eyed: Holmes opened and closed his eyes slowly as the judge advised him of the case. His public defender Tamara Brady sat to his left
Out of it: Some commentators suggested Holmes had had a lack of sleep while others said he could be suffering a mental illness
WHO IS HOLMES” LAWYER
Itwill undoubtedly become a household names in coming weeks: James O”Connor has been appointed as the public defender for James Holmes.
MrO”Connor is the head of the public defender”s office that covers the sprawling 18th Judicial District from suburban Denver to the eastern Colorado plains.
He specializes in criminal defense for felony cases – a good fit considering Holmes is the lone suspect in a shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured and will likely be charged with multiple felonies.
MrO”Connor appears to be a true Coloradoan as he attended Regis University for his undergraduate degree in Denver and then went on to law school at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Though Holmes was seen in court on Monday morning, he was not seen next to Mr O”Connor.
Instead, he was seen sitting next to Tamara Brady, who is also a public defender in the Colorado State”s office.
He was watched by relatives and friends of the victims, some of whom called for the death penalty outside the court.
Prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty for the suspected shooter, a former PhD student described as an outsider who is believed to have recently gone through a break up.
EighteenthJudicial District Attorney Carol Chambers said that her office will decide whether to pursue the penalty after consultation with victims” families.
Speaking after the court appearance, Chambers said the decision will need to be made within 60 days of Holmes”s arraignment. She said the formal charges willbe filed against him next Monday.
Chambersadded that first-degree murder charges can be filed if a suspect is believed to have “extreme indifference” to a crime or if it is carried out “after deliberation”.
Speaking outside the court victims” relatives said they were horrified by his appearance and called for him to be executed.
David Sanchez , 53, whose son-in-law Caleb Medely, 23, was shot in the head, said: “He doesn’t look right, theirs is something demonic about him. He has these crazy eyes.
“I want him to get the death penalty –justice will be served when he gets the death penalty. Seeing justice is so important for me and my family. This has been horrendous.”
Legal experts told the Denver Post that Holmes”s attorneys are likely to pursue an insanity defense.
And looking at Holmes in court, it isclear the suspected murderer, who stared straight ahead and blinked slowly, did not look quite right.
CNNlegal analyst Paul Callan said it was unlikely he would have been givendrugs that would impair his understanding of the judge”s comments.
“Mybet is that he was not medicated,” Callan said. “His appearance may relate to his treatment in jail – we do not know how long he was interrogated for.
“I think you”re looking at a very tired individual combined with what his normal personality might be.”
Of his defense case, former Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant told the Post he saw little option but to plead insanity.
“You just have to imagine that there is something in his psychiatric makeup that will be exploited by his defense team,” he said. “I don”t know what the hell else they are going to say.”
Experts added Holmes is likely to undergo a competency test to see if he is psychologically fit to assist in his defense.
“If in fact he is sane, it”s a hopeless case for the defense,” legal analyst, Scott Robinson, said. “They caught him literally gunpowder-handed with his weapons, with his tactical gear.”
David Lane, a lawyer who has represented25 people charged with death-penalty offenses, added: “There are some crimes, the nature of which just scream out “crazy.” This is one of those cases.”
He has been held at the Arapahoe Detention Center since his arrest in the cinema parking lot just moments after the shooting spree on Friday morning.
Jailors at the facility told the New York Daily Newsthe suspect has not shown any remorse for the killings. He has been acting bizarrely ever since arriving and “thinks he”s acting in a movie”, they said.
Mourning: The father of six-year old Veronica Moser, the youngest victim, arrives at court for the hearing
Sentence: Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers talks to the media after the appearance. She said the prosecutor”s office would talk with relatives on whether to pursue the death penalty
Waiting for justice: Surviving victims of the shooting and their relatives and friends arrive at the courthouse
WAS JAMES HOLMES FAKING IT
Holmesappeared bleary-eyed during his court appearance, looking around nervously then staring ahead blankly. So what was going on
Whilehis appearance may have seemed disingenuous or as if he was under the influence of drugs, experts believe there may be more to it.
CNNlegal analyst Paul Callan said it was unlikely he would have been givendrugs that would impair his understanding and was instead suffering a lack of sleep.
“I think you”re looking at a very tired individual combined with what his normal personality might be,” he said.
DrJoan Neff, a criminologist from the University of Virginia, added that his actions were consistent with someone who was suffering from a mentalillness, such as schizophrenia. She said this would also explain why hedropped out of his PhD so abruptly.
“Weknow that certain types of psychoses tend to have an onset in the early20s; if that”s the case he may be in the midst of coping with that. He may not know what”s going on,” she said.
Alternatively,she said the conditions of his jailing – especially for someone who hasnever been in trouble with the law – may have brought on an episode.
“Sometimes that can be an experience in and of itself,” she said. “So his appearance is not very surprising.”
Sheadded that while he may be pretending to be mentally ill, psychologically, that does not fit with the character of someone who told police they had explosives in their apartment.
“I would expect him to be more cocky – and if that”s not being displayed, they why” she said.
“He was spitting at the door and spitting at the guards,” a released inmate added outside the jail. “He’sspitting at everything. Dude was acting crazy.”
It comes as new details shed light on a possible motive for the massacre.
It is believed Holmes was due to be kicked out of his flat and may have recently broken up with a girlfriend, while one friend said his addiction to video games meant he had lost touch with reality.
But it could take months to figure out the cause behind the killings; as he waited for his first court appearance, authorities disclosed Holmes is refusing to cooperate.
Beforebeing moved to the courtroom for the hearing, he was held in solitary confinement at an Arapahoe County detention facility.
Hewas assigned a public defender and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said that the suspect has “lawyered up” since his arrest in the early hours of Friday in the cinema parking lot.
“He”s not talking to us,” Oates added.
In regards to a possible motice, Aurora police chief Daniel Oates had hinted that Holmes had recently gone through a break up and that authorities were investigating the claim.
“I’ve heard one morsel of information about a relationship that may or may not be true,” he told CBS” Face the Nation.
“That’swhy we have all our investigators working on this. That’s why we brought in the FBI behavioral analysts. They’re going to figure all thatstuff out.”
Itis also believed that Holmes was due to be evicted from his flat. The 24-year-old, who is now in police custody, pulled out of the university weeks before the deadly attack.
Neighbours told TMZ anyone living in the block had to be enrolled at the university otherwise you had 30 days to evacuate.
It is not known exactly when Holmes stopped going to classes but it is thought he was nearing the end of the30-day grace period.
A formerclassmate from the University of Colorado suggested another cause for the killings, saying Holmes had lost touch with reality after becoming “obsessed” with video games.
The classmate told the Daily Mail: “James was obsessed with computer games and was always playing role-playing games.
“Ican’t remember which one but it was something like World of Warcraft, one of those where you compete against people on the internet.
“Hedid not have much of a life apart from that and doing his work. James seemed like he wanted to be in the game and be one of the characters.
“Itseemed that being online was more important to him than real life. He must have lost his sense of reality, how else can you shoot dozens of people you don’t know”
Other acquaintances, who had worked with Holmes at a children”s summer camp in 2008, noted he was an outsider who was “shy and reserved”.
Fighting on: Relatives and friends of the victims leave court. Some have called for the death penalty
Scrum: Members of the media crowd around the courthouse ahead of Holmes”s appearance
Victims: Six-year-old Veronica Moser, left, was the youngest victim shot dead in the massacre. Aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, right, also died
“The entire staff was really close, considering we lived together – exceptfor James,” the counselor told NBC News.
“Hereally kept to himself and hardly ever went on any trips with the rest of the staff. He was very shy and reserved. It is sickening knowing thathe killed kids the same age that he once cared for.”
Holmes worked at the California camp during the summer of 2008, and supervised around 10 underprivileged children between the ages of seven and 14, a spokesperson said.
Amidthe continuing investigation into Holmes and his character, memorial services were held in Aurora on Sunday, with the community holding a prayer vigil.
President Barack Obama also arrived to visit victims” families at the University of Colorado Hospital and said he told the families that “all of America and much of the world is thinking about them”.
Severalthousand gathered for healing at the vigil Sunday night, while well-wishers left notes, soft toys, pictures and flowers at crosses for each of the victims opposite the cinema in Aurora.
Trail of blood: Police investigate Holmes”s car outside the movie theatre on Friday morning
Anguish: Mourners pray in front of a makeshift memorial after a prayer vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center
Remembered: People visit a memorial for the victims across the street from the movie theater
Support: People gather in prayer during a memorial outside the Aurora Municipal Center on Sunday