With eyes rolling in his head, massacre suspect makes bizarre court appearance
WITH bright orange hair and eyes rolling in their sockets, James Holmes, the Colorado massacre suspect, made a bizarre first appearance in court yesterday, refusing even to acknowledge the sobbing families of his victims.
Holmes (24), who identified himself to detectives as 'The Joker' after the atrocity, was shackled hand and foot and appeared to struggle to stay awake.
Dressed in a maroon prison jumpsuit, with a stab-proof vest underneath, he looked groggy and dazed and stared into space.
About 40 relatives and friends of victims sat 20ft away. One person in the front row stared at Holmes and said: "You're no tough guy now."
A woman dressed in black with dark glasses sobbed and had to be comforted by those around her. Others glared at the defendant throughout the 12-minute hearing at Arapahoe County courthouse in Centennial, Colorado.
Police say Holmes was dressed in body armour and toting three guns when he opened fire at a packed midnight screening of the new Batman film 'The Dark Knight Rises' at the Century 16 cinema in nearby Aurora, Colorado last Friday.
Twelve people were killed and 58 injured. Eight victims are still in critical condition. The youngest victim was six-year-old Veronica Moser, whose pregnant mother Ashley Moser (25) is still being treated in hospital after being shot three times.
Holmes, a former neuroscience student, is also accused of leaving his apartment booby-trapped with explosives.
The suspect, who could face the death penalty, arrived at the court through an underground tunnel from the nearby Arapahoe County jail, where he is being held in solitary confinement. Judge William Sylvester read Holmes his rights and told him there was "probable cause" that he had committed first-degree murder.
The judge asked him if he had any questions, but Holmes had been instructed not to speak. He did not even speak to Tamara Brady, a public defender who sat next to him.
Carol Chambers, the district attorney, said prosecutors had 60 days to decide whether to pursue the death penalty, but would speak to the families of victims before deciding.
Colorado has executed only one prisoner since the death penalty was reinstated in 1984. That execution took place in 1997. There are currently only three people on death row.
Holmes will appear in court again next Monday when formal charges will be filed.
He is being represented by James O'Connor, Arapahoe County's top public defender.
Outside court, David Sanchez (53), an electrician, called for the death penalty. His son-in-law, Caleb Medley (23) was shot in the head and is in a critical condition. His daughter, Katie Medley (21), a trainee vet, survived and is due to give birth to her first baby any moment.
Mr Sanchez said: "They were on a date. They had 'Batman' gear on and they had been waiting for this movie for a year.
"I think this guy is demonic. I've seen a picture of him and his eyes are just crazy, there's something wrong with him. I think the death penalty would be justice served."
Holmes is not co-operating with police. Dan Oates, the Aurora police chief, said: "He's not talking to us."
Detectives have not established a motive for the crime but Mr Oates suggested that Holmes may recently have broken up with a girlfriend. "I've heard one morsel of information about a relationship that may or may not be true," he said. "That's why we brought in the FBI behavioural analysts."
Holmes had posted a profile on an adult dating website and three women had turned down dates with him in the days before the massacre.
Police also found a mask and poster connected to the 'Batman' film in his apartment. Neighbours said that Holmes had been due to be evicted from the apartment within days.
As details of the massacre continued to emerge, a 13-year-old girl told how she tried to save Veronica Moser. The girl, whose mother would only give her name as Kaylan, said she saw the six-year-old underneath an injured adult and tried to give first aid.
"I was asking the person who was on top of the one I was trying to help if they could move but they were numb. I was begging them, 'Please try, please, because we have to get out of here'." ( © Daily Telegraph, London)