His hair dyed orange-red and a dazed look on his face, the man accused of going on a deadly shooting rampage at the opening of the new Batman movie appeared Monday in court for the first time. An unshaven, handcuffed James Holmes, 24, sat in maroon jailhouse jumpsuit as the judge advised him of the case. Holmes sat motionless, his eyes appearing tired and drooping. At one point, he closed his eyes as the judge spoke. Prosecutors said later they didn’t know if Holmes was on medication. Authorities have said he is being held in isolation at the jail.
Holmes didn’t speak once during the hearing. His attorneys answered for him when the judge asked if he understood his rights. One woman’s eyes welled up with tears during the hearing.
Police say Holmes, clad in body armor and armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and handguns opened fire at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. He was arrested shortly after the Friday shooting. He is refusing to cooperate, authorities say. They said it could take months to learn what prompted the attack on the moviegoers.
Holmes was brought over from the Arapahoe County detention facility and walked into the courtroom with attorneys and others. He sat down in a jury box, seated next to one of his attorneys. His entrance was barely noticeable but relatives of shooting victims leaned forward in their seats to catch their first glimpse of him. Some stared at him the entire hearing, including Tom Teves, the father of Alex Teves, who was killed in the shooting. Two women held hands tightly, one shaking her head.
After the hearing, prosecutor Carol Chambers said that “at this point, everyone is interested in a fair trial with a just outcome for everybody involved.” Chambers earlier Monday said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty against Holmes. She said a decision will be made in consultation with victims’ families.
David Sanchez, who waited outside the courthouse during Holmes’ hearing, said his pregnant daughter escaped uninjured but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition. “When it’s your own daughter and she escaped death by mere seconds, I want to say it makes you angry,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said his daughter, 21-year-old Katie Medely, and her husband, Caleb, 23, had been waiting for a year to watch the movie. Asked what punishment Holmes should get if convicted, Sanchez said, “I think death is.”
Holmes is expected to be formally charged next Monday. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
Holmes has been assigned a public defender.
Security at the hearing was tight. Uniformed sheriff’s deputies were stationed outside, and deputies were positioned on the roofs of both court buildings at the Arapahoe County Justice Center.
Police have said Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday’s shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school. 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.