Bizarre appearance for 'Batman' gunman
24 July 2012, 07:06
Colorado - A US legal commentator says that in his view lawyers for
presumed Colorado gunman James Holmes have little choice but to use an
His hair dyed orange, eyes staring out
blankly or drooping shut, Holmes seemed unhinged as he made a bizarre
first appearance in court.
Holmes is accused of shooting dead 12
people and wounding 58 others at a cinema on Friday in Aurora, outside
Denver, as young moviegoers packed the first midnight screening of the
latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
Wearing a maroon
prison jumpsuit, the 24-year-old graduate student didn't speak as
lawyers read out a list of accusations during the short procedural
hearing at Arapahoe County District Court in the town of Centennial.
a former PhD candidate in neuroscience, appeared unable to follow
proceedings properly as his head bobbed up and down and he alternated
between staring out wide-eyed and closing his eyes shut as if in a daze.
was unclear if he was on some kind of medication and there was no
indication of when the young man accused of one of America's worst-ever
mass shootings might undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Formal charges will be filed at Holmes' arraignment next Monday.
attorney and legal commentator Scott Robinson said that lawyers for
Holmes "have little choice except to enter a plea of not guilty by
reason of insanity".
Under Colorado law, Holmes could face
multiple murder charges as well as attempted murder charges for the
wounded. He was ordered to remain in Arapahoe County jail, where he is
being held in isolation, with no bail allowed.
Prosecutors expect weeks of consultations with families of the victims before deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty.
will want to get their input before we make any decision on that," said
Arapahoe county district attorney Carol Chambers. "If the death penalty
is sought, that is a very long process that impacts their lives for
Only one person has been executed in Colorado since 1976.
gave himself up outside the cinema, still clad in the full body armour
that witnesses described the gunman wearing as the bullets flew inside,
but Chambers said his successful prosecution wasn't a done deal.
is a case where we are still looking at the enormous amount of
evidence, and we would never presume it is slam dunk," she told
reporters outside court.
About half of the 100 plus seats in the
courtroom were reserved for victims and their family members, with a
heavy contingent of deputy sheriffs providing visible security.
is very important to me," said David Sanchez, whose pregnant daughter
Katy and son-in-law Caleb were among the wounded.
"It was important to support my daughter and her husband and their newborn baby who is coming."
gunman emerged from a fire exit on Friday shortly after the film began
and threw two canisters of noxious gas into the crowd.
firing one round directly into the air with a pump-action shotgun, he
began shooting people at random with a military-style assault rifle that
could dispatch 50 to 60 rounds a minute, witnesses said.
City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Holmes had painted his hair
reddish orange and claimed he was the Joker, Batman's sworn enemy in the
comic book series that inspired the movie.
According to media
reports and at least one witness, the gunman might have killed more
people had his AR-15 assault rifle not jammed.
Calls for a
re-examination of America's gun laws mounted in the aftermath of the
tragedy as it emerged that Holmes bought his four weapons legally, as
well as thousands of rounds of ammunition on the internet.
eight weeks he stocked up on 6 300 rounds of ammunition: 3 000 for his
.233 semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, another 3 000 for his two Glock
pistols, and 300 cartridges for his pump-action shotgun.
said Sunday they had found Holmes's computer inside his booby-trapped
apartment - rigged to kill anyone who entered - which could provide
crucial details about how he planned and executed the attack.
Barack Obama paid emotional tribute to the victims and survivors of the
Aurora cinema massacre as he visited the town on Sunday.
is located just 32km from the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School
massacre, in which two students shot dead 13 people before committing
That shooting prompted consternation in the United States
and the rest of the world, but ultimately had no effect on America's
gun laws, which are backed by a constitutional amendment defending a
citizen's right to bear arms.