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Judge enters not guilty plea for Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes.

James Holmes sits with defense attorney Tamara Brady during his arraignment. (AP)

[Updated at 11:18 a.m. MT]

CENTENNIAL, Colo.— In somewhat of an unexpected twist, James Holmes declined to enter a plea during his arraignment Tuesday morning, so the judge made a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

But Judge William Sylvester left the door open for Holmes to change the plea to not guilty by reason of insanity at a later date.

The former neuroscience student was arraigned Tuesday in a crowded Arapahoe County courtroom. Holmes’ public defenders told the court that they were not prepared to make a plea because they still had mental evaluations and other work to do.

“At some point this case has to move forward,” prosecutor Karen Pearson argued. “That’s what the victims wish in this case.”

Robert and Arlene Holmes leave district court after the arraignment of their son. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Holmes’ parents, Robert and Arlene, sat together in the second row of the packed courtroom, just several feet from their son, who wore a red jail jumpsuit and now has longer, bushier brown hair and a thick beard. They left the courtroom with tears in their eyes after the 30-minute proceeding.

Daniel King, Holmes’ lead attorney, said part of the delay on entering a plea is not knowing if his client could face execution. It puts them in a “Catch-22” with how to proceed, he said. When King told Sylvester the defense team wasn’t ready to plead, several victims and their families near the back of the courtroom dropped their heads. One groaned, seemingly in disgust.

Sylvester asked King how much time the defense needed.

“[That’s] very difficult to say, judge. We could be ready by May 1. I don’t know,” King responded. “It may be June 1. It’s very difficult for us to predict. I wish I could give the court a better answer.”

Pearson told Sylvester she found King’s reasoning “disingenuous,” saying the defense had received information it had asked of the court, but it was now saying it wasn’t prepared. At that point, a seemingly irritated Sylvester ruled he would enter the not-guilty plea on Holmes’ behalf.

The district attorney’s office said it will announce on April 1 if it plans to seek the death penalty. Sylvester scheduled the trial to begin in August for four weeks.

Prosecutors allege that Holmes was the gunman who opened fire last July inside a packed premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 70 others wounded (either by gunfire or during the melee to get out).

The 25-year-old faces multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.

Holmes was arrested behind the theater minutes after the massacre. He was clad in combat gear and had weapons nearby.

[RELATED: ‘Truth serum’ may be used to assess Holmes’ sanity]

His court-appointed defense attorneys have said Holmes is mentally ill.

In a notice posted to the court’s website on Monday, Judge William Sylvester advised Holmes that the legal definition of insanity applies to someone “who is so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act.”

However, Sylvester also noted, an insane person should not be confused with someone who has “moral obliquity, mental depravity, or passion growing out of anger, revenge, hatred, or other motives and kindred evil conditions.”

At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in January, prosecutors declared they had presented overwhelming evidence that Holmes meticulously planned and executed the attack without remorse.

“Because he wanted to kill all of them, and he knew what he was doing,” prosecutor Karen Pearson said.

Whether Holmes is diseased or defective in mind (as the defense has implied it will argue) or is a mass murderer fueled by anger and bent on revenge (as the prosecution has alleged) is central to the case.

Holmes’ mental state has been the crux of his attorneys’ arguments. Starting with his first court appearance in July and in numerous hearings since, they devoted the bulk of their arguments to his relationship with his university psychiatrist, a notebook he sent her shortly before the shooting and when Holmes’ treatment with his psychiatrist ended. Those details, they said, only began to examine the depths of Holmes’ mental illness.

[RELATED: Senators seek tougher gun background checks for mentally ill]

The prosecution, meanwhile, has repeatedly sought information apparently unrelated to Holmes’ mental state—his grades, school emails, admission applications, his purchases of ammunition, gas masks, grenades and body armor—to show that Holmes concocted what they call a “detailed and complex” plan to slaughter movie patrons at the Aurora multiplex, just east of Denver.

Yahoo reporter Jason Sickles contributed to this report.


By  | The Lookout

Colorado suspect James Holmes took creepy self-portraits hours before the shootings.


Sketch of James Holmes being led into court this week. (AP Photo/Bill Robles, Pool)

[Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. MT]

CENTENNIAL, Colo.— Photos recovered from James Holmes’ iPhone show the alleged gunman posing with weapons and making creepy faces in the weeks and hours before the shooting massacre at an Aurora movie theater.

The images were shown in court Wednesday morning during Holmes’ preliminary hearing, but were not released to the public.

It was the state’s final move before declaring that it had presented overwhelming evidence that Holmes meticulously planned and executed the attack without remorse.

“Because he wanted to kill all of them, and he knew what he was doing,” Arapahoe County prosecutor Karen Pearson told the court.

One of the more disturbing self-portraits was snapped on July 12. It shows his infamous orange-dyed hair flaring out from beneath a black skull cap. His eye color is darkened by black contact lenses, and he is grinning with his tongue sticking out.

Three other self-portraits were snapped approximately six hours before the movie theater shooting. In those photos he is also wearing black contact lenses and making various faces. In one of them, he’s holding up one of two semi-automatic pistols he had recently purchased.

“He has a large, toothy smile,” Aurora police Sgt. Matthew Fyle said from the witnesses stand.

In two others from July 19, he is posing with parts of homemade bombs he allegedly built. A final photo from July 19 shows an arsenal of guns and black tactical clothing sprawled across a red sheet on his bed.

A self-portrait taken on July 5 shows Holmes with orange-dyed hair and dressed in black combat gear with an assault-like rifle being carried from his shoulder.

Other photos recovered from Holmes’ iPhone lead police to believe he began casing the Century 16 theater a month before the shootings.

Four photos taken on June 29, July 5 and July 11 show various interior and exterior images of the movie theater, including doorways, hallways and sidewalks.

Holmes’ lead public defender, Daniel King, did not present evidence or call witnesses during this phase of the case.

“I have no argument to probable cause,” King said. “This is not a trial.”

King said anything he would present would speak to Holmes’ mental illness, and this was not the time to do so.

Judge William Sylvester did not make a ruling at the end of Wednesday’s preliminary hearing. He recessed the court until 9 a.m. MT on Friday when he will announce if the evidence presented is enough to move forward with a trial. An arraignment may be held the same day. If so, Holmes’ defense attorneys could plead not guilty to preserve Holmes’ right to a jury trial.

[Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. MT]

CENTENNIAL, Colo.—Aurora police Sgt. Matthew Fyles, who has supervised the Aurora movie theater massacre investigation, is scheduled to take the stand when the preliminary hearing resumes at 9 a.m. MT.

Prosecutors said late Tuesday that Fyles will be the last witness for the state. It is unknown if shooting suspect James Holmes’ defense team will call its own witnesses.

The purpose of the hearing is for District Judge William Sylvester to determine if there is evidence to try Holmes on 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Colorado allows dual filing of charges (essentially premeditated and without remorse). Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded in the shooting. An additional 13 suffered nongunshot injuries as a result of the rampage.

Holmes, a former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, has been held without bond and in isolation since being arrested without resistance behind the theater minutes after the massacre.

By  | The Lookout

Updates from hearing: Holmes rigged home with explosives to distract police.

Aurora police Officer Jason Oviatt leaves the courtroom for the lunch break after a court appearance by James Holmes. …

Editor’s note: No electronic equipment is allowed in the courtroom. We’ll update here when possible during recesses and other breaks.

[Updated 1:19 p.m. ET/11:19 MT]

CENTENNIAL, Colo.— A federal agent testified today that suspected Aurora, Colo., theater gunman James Holmes had booby-trapped his apartment and intended it as a distraction while he went on a shooting rampage at the theater.

FBI bomb tech Garrett Gumbinner said during the preliminary hearing this morning that he interviewed Holmes the afternoon after he allegedly went on a shooting spree at the Aurora movie cineplex last July. The agent said that bombs inside his apartment were set to be detonated by a remote control for a toy car left outside the building. When someone tried to play with the remote control, the bombs would go off.

The explosions, which did not happen, were intended to draw first responders to his apartment, while Holmes went on a shooting spree, the agent said.

The testimony came during the second day of a preliminary hearing to determine if Holmes should stand trial for the shooting deaths of 12 people killed during the attack and the numerous other people he allegedly wounded.

Prosecutors also played the audio of two 911 calls during the morning court session.

During one call, 30 loud gunshots can be heard during a 27-second call from inside the Aurora movie theater during the rampage. That 911 call, made by moviegoer Kevin Quinonez, was replayed in open court and caused survivors and victims’ family members in attendance to hide their faces and wipe tears with tissues.

A second call played for the court was from a 13-year-old girl, whose aunt and cousin was shot. On that 4-minute call, a 911 operator tried repeatedly tried to instruct the teen how to perform CPR on one of her cousins who had not yet died.

“I can’t hear you” the girl says on the 911 tape. “I’m sorry.”

[Updated at 9 a.m. ET/7 a.m. MT]

CENTENNIAL, Colo.—Day two of James Holmes’ preliminary hearing on mass murder charges could offer more clues to whether prosecutors and defense attorneys are prepping for a possible insanity defense.

At times on Monday, through video, police testimony and the reciting of witness statements, both sides seemed to try to frame Holmes’ state of mind before, during and immediately after 12 people were killed and 58 injured in the movie theater rampage in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012.
Sketch of James Holmes being led into court on Monday. (REUTERS/Bill Robles)

Century 16 security cameras showed a nonchalant Holmes holding the door for others as he entered the movie theater shortly after midnight. He used his cellphone to print his ticket to the premier of “The Dark Knight Rises.” He dawdled near a concession stand for several minutes before entering Theater 9, where the shootings took place.

Investigators say Holmes went out a side fire exit close to where his car was parked behind the complex. He then donned police-like tactical gear and got his guns before re-entering the side door about 20 minutes into the film.

Arresting Officer Jason Oviatt was the hearing’s first witness.

“He seemed very detached from it all,” Oviatt testified, adding that his notes from that night state that Holmes “simply stared off into the distance” and “seemed to be out of it and disoriented.”

But a second officer testified that Holmes smiled when he asked him about accomplices.

“It was like a smirk,” Officer Justin Grizzle testified.

Detective Matthew Ingui said a witness told him that the gunman was “very calm and moving with purpose.”

Late in the day, defense attorney Daniel King engaged the Arapahoe County coroner in a discussion about the definition of a homicide.

By  | The Lookout

Victim’s plea for suspected Colorado theater gunman James Holmes.


Suspected gunman James Holmes. (Arapahoe Co. Sheriff)
DENVER — As a God-fearing man, Marcus Weaver tries to accept that alleged movie theater gunman James Holmes deserves his day in court.

“But he could do us all a favor and just plead guilty,” said Weaver, one of at least 70 people injured in last July’s ambush in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed when the shooter opened fire during a during a midnight showing of the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Weaver, 42, was in the fifth row of the dark theater when the heavily-armed assailant burst in and began firing. Weaver’s right shoulder was peppered with gunshot pellets. Rebecca Wingo, one his best friends, died in the attack.

“It’s tough, it’s tough, it’s tough,” he said with a sigh. “The noises, the sounds, it all comes back.”

Weaver is dreading the coming week when never-before-disclosed details of the case against Holmes will be made public at a long-awaited preliminary hearing.

[RELATED: Hearing may be ‘mini-trial’ in theater shootings]

The purpose of the hearing is for District Judge William Sylvester to determine if there is evidence to try Holmes on 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Holmes, a former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, has been held without bond and in isolation since being arrested without resistance behind the theater minutes after the massacre.

Shooting victim Marcus Weaver in July. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo)

No exact motive has been disclosed and any revealing records have been sealed since early on in the investigation. The preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to last for five days, could offer the first glimpse at detailed evidence such as search warrants, moviegoer 911 calls and crime scene images from inside the theater.

“I don’t know if it’ll be all the cards, but it sounds to me that it’ll be a meaningful amount of evidence,” said Barry Sorrels, a former prosecutor and veteran Texas criminal defense attorney.

[RELATED: Four dead in townhouse shooting in Aurora, Colo.]

Sorrels said the hearing will be extremely helpful to Holmes’ court-appointed attorneys.

“From a criminal defense perspective, information is like gold, the more you have the richer you are,” Sorrels said. “It doesn’t matter if it is good, bad or indifferent. You just want to know as much about what the facts of the case are as possible.”

Last week, Judge Sylvester ruled that the defense will be allowed to call two adverse witnesses to, “rebut, impeach, contradict, or clarify testimony from government witnesses, particularly on the issue of the Defendant’s mental state.” His attorneys have indicated that Holmes, 25, is mentally ill and that they will pursue an insanity defense.

“The only possible defense in a case like this where he was arrested at the scene would be insanity,” Sorrels said. “Whether or not it’s a viable option depends on the facts and circumstances of this case.”

Weaver, who is still undergoing physical and mental therapy, says he has seen and heard all he needs to know.

“It’s clear-cut if you ask me,” he said.

Weaver knows the odds of a prolonged trial are likely, but still prays against it.

“It holds all of us back who were either victims or had a loved one killed in the theater,” he said. “I wish he’d just plead guilty and move forward, so we could all move forward.”

By  | The Lookout

Shooting suspect James Holmes was treated by CU psychiatrist.

Click image to see more photos. (Rj Sangosti/AFP/POOL/file)

Shooting suspect James Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado-Denver, where he was a first-year graduate student in neuroscience, according to court documents released Friday. His psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, a professor at CU’s medical school and the director of student mental health services, specializes in schizophrenia, according to her online biography. The filing didn’t disclose how long Holmes had been seeing Fenton, or for what condition, if any, he was being treated.

Last week, Fox News reported that Holmes mailed Fenton a notebook filled with stick-figure drawings that showed a massacre, citing unnamed law enforcement personnel as sources. Fenton didn’t receive the package until after Holmes was arrested on charges of entering an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and using several weapons to fatally shoot 12 people and injure 58 more.

Holmes’ defense lawyers write in their court filing that their client’s constitutional rights have been violated by the government sources who leaked details of the package to news outlets, since the court has ordered all agencies not to reveal more details about the case. District Attorney Carol Chambers rebutted that charge, saying that she believes the media may have fabricated the law enforcement sources they quoted since many details of their accounts were inaccurate. Chambers writes that the package in question has not yet been examined by anyone, and that other outlets falsely reported that the FBI, not the Aurora Police Department, confiscated the package.

Holmes reportedly failed his neuroscience oral exam in June, and a few days later decided to drop out of the competitive graduate program. CU Graduate School Dean Barry Shur told reporters at a press conference earlier this week that Holmes had excellent academic credentials, but he would not say whether his faculty advisers noticed signs of mental illness or violence in the student before he dropped out.


By Liz Goodwin, Yahoo! News | The Lookout 

3 hospitals wipe out, limit medical bills for shooting victims.

  • Naomi Hicks (R) hugs a woman at a memorial for victims, behind the theater where a gunman opened fire on moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado July 21, 2012. James Holmes, the suspect accused of a shooting rampage at a Denver- area premiere of the new "Batman" film, received a high volume of deliveries at work and home over the past four months, police said, parcels they believe contained ammunition and possibly bomb-making materials. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST OBITUARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)View GalleryNaomi Hicks (R) hugs a woman at a memorial for victims, behind the theater where a gunman opened fire on moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado July 21, 2012. James Holmes, the suspect accused of a shooting rampage …more 

DENVER – Some of the victims fighting for their lives after being wounded in the movie theater shooting rampage may face another challenge when they get out of the hospital: enormous medical bills without the benefit of health insurance.

Members of the public, along with Warner Bros., the studio that released the Batman movieThe Dark Knight Rises,” have contributed nearly $2 million to help victims, though it’s not clear how much of that will cover medical expenses. One family is raising money on its own online.

And three of the five hospitals that treated victims said Wednesday they will limit or completely wipe out medical bills.

Some of the victims, however, still face a long recovery ahead and the associated medical costs — without health insurance. There’s no exact count of how many of them don’t have insurance but statistics suggest many of them might not be covered.

Nearly one in three Coloradans, or about 1.5 million, either have no health insurance or have coverage that is inadequate, according to a 2011 report by The Colorado Trust, a health care advocacy group.

The highest uninsured rate was among adults between 18 and 34 and many of those injured in the shootings are in that age group.

State officials said they are not sure whether any of the victims qualify for emergency Medicaid assistance available to needy patients. Victims could also get financial assistance from a state program that helps people hurt during crimes, including lost wages and counselling.

Among the uninsured victims of the movie theater attack is a 23-year-old aspiring comic, Caleb Medley, who is in critical condition with a head wound and whose wife, Katie, gave birth to their first child, Hugo, on Tuesday.

His family and friends said they have set a goal of raising $500,000 to cover his hospital bills and other expenses and were over halfway there on Wednesday.

“All the money that is donated is going straight to Caleb, Katie and Hugo to help them with medical bills, getting back on their feet, help with the baby items,” friend Michael West said. “Anything and everything that they need.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado announced it would use donations and its charity care fund to cover the medical expenses of the uninsured. For those who do have insurance, the hospital says it will waive all co-pays.

“We are committed to supporting these families as they heal,” according to a statement from the hospital, which treated six shooting victims.

HealthOne, which owns the Medical Center of Aurora and Swedish Medical Center, also says it will limit or eliminate charges based on the individual circumstances of the patients. Those hospitals have treated 22 shooting victims. However, the company cautioned its policy may not apply to all doctors working in its hospitals.

The other two hospitals, Denver Health Medical Center and University of Colorado Hospital, where Medley is, wouldn’t directly say whether they would assist shooting victims. However, they are the state’s top two safety net hospitals and provided combined $750 million in free care in 2011.

Hospitals are required by federal law to stabilize patients during emergencies without regard to their ability to pay.

“The issue most probably facing the hospitals and patients in a situation like Aurora is what comes after ‘stabilization,'” said Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and a frequent critic of excessive medical costs.

“Many of these people I assume will need prolonged and expensive rehabilitation after their immediate injuries are dealt with, and that seems precisely what hospitals today are less and less willing to cover out of their own funds, and no law requires that they do so, as far as I am aware,” he said.

Medley is in a medically induced coma, but West said he has been showing signs of improvement, relying less on a ventilator to breathe. Medley’s wife, 21-year-old Katie Medley, gave birth on Tuesday, one floor above his room at University of Colorado Hospital.

Standup comedian Gabriel Iglesias, who has appeared on Comedy Central, planned to headline a Denver fundraiser for Medley next week.

The fundraising might actually make Medley ineligible for some income-related assistance. His family and all other victims are already meeting with victim advocates, the case workers who deal with people hurt during crimes. The advocates determine what services they need and what assistance they qualify for.

“We have individuals who will need a lifetime of care, or a lifetime of accommodation, and our job is to make sure those needs are met,” said Karla Maraccini, deputy director for community partnerships in the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.


Associated Press writer Lindsey Tanner in Chicago contributed to this report.




Associated PressBy Colleen Slevin,Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press | Associated Press

The Joker.

In the second installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Alfred the butler gives a chilling description of the Joker:

Perhaps this is a man you don’t fully understand. … Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

The world now knows the name of James Holmes, the loner graduate student who opened fire at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and wounding dozens more.

He had dyed his hair red, and later told police he was the Joker.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the dominant cultural discussion – following shock and horror – has followed two streams. The first is gun control. The idea is that this nightmare, along with others like it, calls for new laws.

The other cultural current is, “How could God allow this?”

Both conversations need to wrestle with the same reality, a word that is often airbrushed from our rhetoric.


The medieval Christian philosopher Boethius aptly noted that “evil is not so much an infliction as a deep-set infection.”

In 1973, psychiatrist Karl Menninger published a book with the provocative title, Whatever Became of Sin?  His point was that sociology and psychology tend to avoid terms like “evil” or “immorality” and “wrongdoing.” Menninger detailed how the theological notion of sin became the legal idea of crime and then slid further from its true meaning when it was relegated to the psychological category of sickness.

We need the word back.

Why? Because God was not behind what happened in Aurora, much less responsible for it.

A person was.

Philip Yancey, a writer who has invested much of his life exploring these issues, was contacted by a television producer after the death of Princess Diana to appear on a show and explain how God could have possibly allowed such a tragic accident.

“Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going 90 miles an hour in a narrow tunnel?” he asked the producer. “How, exactly, was God involved?”

From this, Yancey reflected on the pervasive nature of the mindset that our actions are actually an indictment of God.

Such as when boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini killed a Korean boxer in a match, the athlete said in a press conference, “Sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does.”

In a letter to a Christian family therapist, a young woman told of dating a man and becoming pregnant. She wanted to know why God allowed that to happen to her.

In her official confession, when South Carolina mother Susan Smith pushed her two sons into a lake to drown, she said that as she did it, she went running after the car as it sped down the ramp screaming, “Oh God! Oh God, no! … Why did you let this happen!”

Yancey raises the decisive question by asking,

“What exactly was the role God played in a boxer pummeling his opponent, a teenager abandoning her virtue, or a mother drowning her children?”

God let us choose, and we did, and our choices have brought continual pain and heartache and destruction.

The recuperating victims, the families of the deceased, and all who were traumatized by that night in Aurora deserve our prayers and anything else we can offer to serve.

But make no mistake.

Holmes was, indeed, the Joker. And no gun law, much less God, has anything to do with his evil.

James Emery White


James Emery White, Wrestling with God (InterVarsity Press).

Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy.

Karl Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin?

Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God.

By Dr. James Emery White

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life (InterVarsity Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

James Holmes’ Goofy Behavior Sign of Psychosis or Faking It, Expert Says.

Accused movie theater gunman James Holmeswas not on drugs when he appeared dazed in court, but experts are looking for explanations for his odd behavior that included turning evidence bags on his hands into puppets after his arrest, sources told ABC News.

The loopy, seemingly unconcerned actions by the former Ph.D student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 is seen by some as signs of psychosis — or that he’s faking it.

Sources tell ABC News that Holmes was not on drugs or medication at the time of the hearing, but Holmes has demonstrated a pattern of bizarre behavior since his arrest outside an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last Friday.

When Holmes was arrested he told police he was the fictitious Batman villain, The Joker. When police put evidence bags over his hands to preserve traces of gunpowder residue, Holmes pretended the bags were puppets, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Holmes has acted unfazed by his arrest, police say. He has been uncooperative since he was taken into custody, giving investigators little information, and yet disclosing his apartment was booby trapped with dozens of explosives.

His behavior in court Monday was particularly strange. Unshaven, with a shock of died orange hair, Holmes alternated between staring wide-eyed to closing his eyes and appearing to nod off.

His lawyer even had to nudge him to rise when the judge entered the courtroom. He said nothing during the proceedings, in which he was held without bond.

Some observers wondered if Holmes was on drugs or being medicated. Sources told ABC News, he was not on drugs, leading to expert theories that he may have been in the grips of “psychotic episode,” exhausted from stress or simply faking it.

“I think there are two possibilities going on here,” Marissa Randazzo, former chief research psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service and an expert in mass shootings, told “Good Morning America” today.

“One is that he is in the middle of a psychotic episode which is quite possible. We see him distracted at multiple points, an almost sort of ‘coming to’ and trying to figure out where he is and process what’s going on,” she said.

“The other thing that we’re seeing — and we’ve seen some of this behavior in the past couple months — might suggest mania. Meaning hyperactivity, hyper energy, been possibly up and not sleeping for days. What we might be seeing here is the post effects.”

But Randazzo also said there was a third possibility. He might simply be faking it.

“It’s possible,” she said when asked if Holmes’ behavior could be all an act. “It is possible. We’ll leave that open,” she said, adding that most people who lie about that sort of behavior are sociopaths and “What we’ve heard about his history does not suggest sociopath at all.”

“Let’s keep that in mind that he was studying neuroscience. He was studying exactly the type of brain issues that we’re going to be talking about throughout this whole case,” she said.


By RUSSELL GOLDMAN and DAN HARRIS | Good Morning America

Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes appears dazed in court.

Holmes appears with defense attorney Tamara Brady in court, July 23, 2012. (AP/Pool)

CENTENNIAL, Colo.–James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado theater massacre, appeared in a Colorado courtroom on Monday, three days after one of the deadliest shooting sprees in modern American history.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge William B. Sylvester advised Holmes of his Miranda rights, and said that there was probable cause to continue to hold him without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Holmes, who was transported from a holding cell to the courtroom via an underground tunnel, appeared dazed. His brow furrowed. His head bobbed. His eyes opened and closed often. His hair was dyed a cartoonish orange-red. His hands and feet were shackled. He did not speak.

Seated in a jury box next to Tamara Brady, a public defender, Holmes never looked in the direction of a gallery that included victims and their advocates. Two sheriff’s deputies stood watch nearby.

The preliminary hearing lasted about 11 minutes. Holmes’ next court appearance is July 30, when he is expected to be charged.

[COMPLETE COVERAGE: Colorado theater shooting]

A decision on whether to seek the death penalty could be weeks or months away, District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters as she entered the courthouse.

“It will be a conversation we have with the victims before we make that decision,” Chambers said.

Holmes could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from the mass shooting that killed 12 and injured 58 people at an Aurora, Colo., screening of “Dark Knight Rises.”

Clad in full body armor, he surrendered to officers in a parking lot behind the cinema. Holmes did not resist arrest, but investigators have since described the former PhD student at the Univ. of Colorado-Denver medical school as uncooperative.

Authorities and news reports have portrayed the native Californian as smart and shy, but no motive for the shooting spree has surfaced.

[SLIDESHOW: Colorado mourns victims]

Federal investigators were dispatched to assist local authorities with the investigation, but officials have indicated justice will be sought in a state courtroom.

Colorado has a death penalty, but only one inmate has been executed since 1977. Three inmates are currently on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

“If James Holmes isn’t executed,” former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman told Reuters, “Colorado may as well throw away its death penalty law.”

Despite the fact that Holmes was arrested with weapons on him—and his apartment found “booby-trapped”—Chambers said investigators are still diligently pursuing more evidence.

“I would say there’s no such thing as a slam dunk case,” she said during a press conference outside the courthouse. “It is a case where we are still looking at the enormous amount of evidence.”

The district attorney, who admitted she was seeing the defendant for the first time, was asked if Holmes might have been on medication at the hearing.

“We have no information about that,” Chambers said.

All 110 seats in the courtroom were full for the hearing, with some 80 or so occupied by victims, their families or counsellors recruited from local police departments to help those grieving. A few of the victims, some of the wearing dark sunglasses, embraced in long hugs before taking their seats.

Jessica Watts was in the court to represent her cousin, Jon Blunk, who was fatally shot in the theater after pushing his girlfriend out of harm’s way.

Watts said she held back her emotions when the alleged killer was ushered in.

“I tried not to have a reaction because I wanted the focus to be about Johnny,” she said. “There’s so many emotions that I have for him.”

[Yahoo News senior media reporter Dylan Stableford contributed to this report.]


By Jason Sickles, Yahoo! | The Lookout

Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes to appear in court Monday morning.

Holmes’ public defenders enter the courthouse, July 23, 2012. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo News)

CENTENNIAL, Colo.–The public will get its first look at the alleged movie theater gunman Monday morning when suspect James Holmes appears in a Colorado courtroom.

Monday’s hearing, which will be broadcast live on television and the web, is scheduled for 9:30 MST (11:30 a.m. EDT) and could be very brief. Under Colorado law, Holmes will be advised of his rights, but few other details could emerge.

A decision on whether to seek the death penalty could be weeks or months away, District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters as she entered the courthouse.

“It will be a conversation we have with the victims before we make that decision,” Chambers said.

Holmes, 24, is accused of mercilessly blasting his way through a packed movie theater on Friday in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of “Dark Knight Rises.”

Twelve people died and 58 others were injured in the shooting. The rampage is among the worst mass shootings in modern-day American history.

[COMPLETE COVERAGE: Colorado theater shooting]

Holmes, clad in full body armor, surrendered to officers in a parking lot behind the cinema. He did not resist arrest, but investigators have since described the former medical student as uncooperative.

Authorities and news reports have portrayed the native Californian as smart and shy, but no motive for the shooting spree has surfaced.

Federal investigators were dispatched to assist local authorities with the investigation, but officials have indicated justice will be sought in a state courtroom.

Colorado has a death penalty, but only one inmate has been executed since 1977. Three inmates are currently on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

“If James Holmes isn’t executed,” former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman told Reuters, “Colorado may as well throw away its death penalty law.”


By Jason Sickles, Yahoo! | The Lookout

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