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Sunday 18 February 2018

Batman gunman: Were children hurt?

James Holmes during a pre-trial hearing (The Denver Post/AP)
James Holmes during a pre-trial hearing (The Denver Post/AP)

Batman cinema gunman James Holmes asked police: "There weren't any children hurt, were there?" hours after his arrest.

A dazed-sounding Holmes asked the question in a video played for jurors, which showed two detectives interviewing him at the Aurora Police Department in Colorado about two hours after the July 2012 attack, which killed 12 people and injured 70 others.

Detective Chuck Mehl said later that Holmes had seen a Crimes Against Children Unit sign in the police station, which might have prompted the question.

Detectives did not answer Holmes' question directly, but said: "We'll get to that."

Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 166 counts including murder and attempted murder at the Aurora cinema complex which was showing the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.

His lawyers acknowledge he was the gunman but say schizophrenia had so distorted his mind that he could not tell right from wrong.

Prosecutors say Holmes was sane and are asking jurors to convict him and sentence him to death.

In the video, Holmes is wearing a torn shirt, undershorts and fiery orange hair. His voice is thick and groggy.

Asked if he needs anything, he says: "Oxygen." The detectives ask if he is having trouble breathing or wants a fan, but he says no.

When asked how to spell Holmes, he answers: "Like Sherlock."

A brief clip of Holmes in the interview room had been played for jurors during opening statements on April 27, but this was the first time his conversation with the detectives was shown in court.

Detective Mehl offered no explanation for Holmes' behaviour and neither side asked him about it.

Earlier, a volunteer supervisor at a gun range told the court that a man with bright orange hair who arrived in the summer of 2012 was such an odd sight that he and another supervisor went to talk to him.

Theodore Maples did not say who the man was, but the reddish-orange hair and weapons he fired matched descriptions of Holmes and his arsenal.

Judge Carlos Samour did not allow Mr Maples to recount the conversation after the defence objected to a prosecution question about what was said.

Press Association

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