Suspect in theater massacre goes to court listless and emotionless

Holmes’ parents, victims’ families react with sorrow

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — James Holmes never looked directly at the judge. Instead he blinked, looked down and widened his eyes as he made his first public appearance since being arrested in the Aurora movie theater massacre.

Seated next to attorney Tamara Brady, the 24-year-old appeared listless and unemotional during the 12-minute hearing at Arapahoe County District Court, leading to speculation that he may have been medicated before the hearing. His hair was dyed bright reddish-orange and his facial expressions alternated between dazed and blank.

A judge read him his rights and said he was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder. Mr. Holmes is scheduled to be charged here at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Hours later in San Diego, his parents expressed their sorrow over the massacre that left 12 dead.

“Their hearts go out to the victims, their families,” said attorney Lisa Damiani, speaking for the family at an Monday afternoon news conference.

She asked for the media to respect the family members’ privacy and said they would not answer questions about the suspect at this time. Asked whether the parents stand behind Mr. Holmes, Ms. Damiani said, “Yes they do. He’s their son.”

Ms. Damiani also denied a widely circulated report that mother Arlene Holmes immediately suspected or half-knew her son would commit such a crime.

According to the family statement, when Mrs. Holmes said, “Yes, you have the right person,” she was answering a reporter’s query on whether she was Mr. Holmes’ mother, not whether authorities had the right person in custody.

“I did not know anything about a shooting in Aurora at that time,” Mrs. Holmes said in the statement.

Mr. Holmes’ first public appearance since the attack gave victims’ families their first, albeit brief, look at the man suspected of America’s worst killing rampage in three years.

Tom Teves, whose son Alex died while diving to protect his girlfriend, looked at the barely former doctoral student with contempt.

“I saw the coward in court today, and Alex could have wiped the floor with him without breaking a sweat,” Mr. Teves told reporters.

Mr. Holmes’ attorneys are part of the Colorado public defender’s capital-case team, which represents defendants in potential death-penalty trials. Mr. Holmes is being held in isolation at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on no bond.

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said she still is weighing whether to seek the death penalty in the case and wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“I would say there’s no such thing as a slam dunk case,” Ms. Chambers told reporters after the hearing. “It is a case where we’re still looking at an enormous amount of evidence, and we would never presume that it would be a slam dunk.”

The district attorney has 60 days after the arraignment, which has not yet been scheduled, to decide whether to pursue a sentence of capital punishment in the event of a conviction. Ms. Chambers also said she wanted to talk with victims and families before deciding on a course.

When a reporter outside the courthouse asked David Sanchez, whose son-in-law Caleb Medley was shot in the head and is in critical condition, what would be right if Mr. Holmes is convicted, he said, “I think death is.”

His daughter, Katie Medley, was not hurt and is scheduled to deliver the couple’s child this week.

The district attorney who makes the final call, however, may not be Ms. Chambers, who is slated to leave office in January.

Voters in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties will choose a new district attorney in November. The candidates are Republican George Brauchler, formerly of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and Democrat Ethan Feldman, a former county judge and prosecutor.

Mr. Holmes is the only suspect in the shooting massacre at the Thursday midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century 16 theater in Aurora. Twelve people were killed and 58 injured when a gunman wearing a gas mask stormed the theater, set off two gas canisters and started shooting into the defenseless crowd.

He moved to Colorado last year to study neuroscience as a graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver. He grew up in San Diego and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Riverside.

Since the massacre, Mr. Holmes reportedly has called himself “the Joker,” after the villain in the Batman series of comics and films, and authorities also have told reporters they found a Batman mask in his apartment. Authorities have declined to confirm the reports officially.

Mr. Holmes also has dyed his hair, which is normally brown, to the reddish-orange color, even though the Joker has usually been portrayed as having green or black hair.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks