Published July 23, 2012
| Fox News Latino
James Holmes, the suspect in the horror that turned what would have been an ordinary evening at the movies into a nightmare that gripped the world, appeared in court Monday, spending much of the brief time there looking down or with his eyes closed and his head tilted back.
With his reddish-orange hair, Holmes looked alternately confused and tired as the judge spoke.
He appeared after being accused of the shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured 58 others. He is said to have opened fire after setting off tear gar shortly after the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," a Batman film, began.
The judge says he will be formally charged next Monday.
Investigators say they found a Batman mask inside Holmes' booby-trapped apartment after the attack.
Holmes has been held in solitary confinement since Friday. Prosecutors say they may consider the death penalty but will make that decision after consulting with victim's families.
Holmes, 24, is being held in solitary confinement in jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Prosecutors have 72 hours to file formal charges.
Legal experts interviewed by the Denver Post said Holmes’ attorneys were very likely to pursue an insanity defense.
"You just have to imagine that there is something in his psychiatric makeup that will be exploited by his defense team," said former Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant, according to the Denver Post. "I don't know what the hell else they are going to say."
Holmes is likely to undergo a competency evaluation to see if he is psychologically fit to assist in his defense, experts say.
Legal analyst, Scott Robinson, is quoted in the Denver Post as saying: "If in fact he is sane, it's a hopeless case for the defense. They caught him literally gunpowder-handed with his weapons, with his tactical gear. They clearly have the right man."
David Lane, a lawyer who has represented 25 people charged with death-penalty offenses, explains in the Denver Post: "There are some crimes, the nature of which just scream out 'crazy.' This is one of those cases.”
The story continued: “Lane said that based on news reports of Holmes' behavior, intelligence, age and lack of a criminal record, his defense lawyers might construct a case that he has schizophrenia, a mental illness that makes it hard to tell what is real.”
Meanwhile, security was tight Monday outside the courthouse where Holmes is to be for the hearing.
Uniformed sheriff's deputies were stationed outside, and deputies were positioned on the roofs of both court buildings at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, south of Denver.
Authorities say Holmes is refusing to cooperate and that it could take months to learn what prompted the attack that killed 12 and injured 58 moviegoers at the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," a Batman film.
Holmes grew up in San Diego. He enrolled last year in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver, but school officials say he recently left the program.
Holmes has been assigned a public defender and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said that the former doctoral student has "lawyered up" since his arrest early Friday.
"He's not talking to us," the chief said.
Holmes has been held without bond at the lockup in Centennial, Colo., about 13 miles from the Aurora theater. He will be advised of the charges against him, and he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
On Sunday, officials at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether Holmes used his position in a graduate program to collect hazardous materials, but school officials weren't saying whether they knew he was anything more than a hard-working student.
Police have said that Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday's shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school.
While the university disclosed that it was cooperating with police in the case, that disclosure was one of the few it has made three days after the massacre. It remained unclear whether Holmes' professors and other students at his 35-student Ph.D. program noticed anything unusual about his behavior.
His reasons for quitting the program in June, just a year into the five- to seven-year program, also remained a mystery.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don't do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam. University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
Holmes was not allowed access to the institution after his withdrawal, which was "standard operating procedure" because he was no longer affiliated with the school, said Jacque Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the medical school. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.
The university declined to release any details of his academic record, citing privacy concerns, and at least two dozen professors and other staff declined to speak with The Associated Press. Some said they were instructed not to talk publicly about Holmes in a blanket email sent to university employees.
Montgomery said police have told the school to not talk about Holmes. The university took down the website for its graduate neuroscience program on Saturday.
Amid the continuing investigation of Holmes and his background, Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora, with the community holding a prayer vigil and with President Barack Obama arriving to visit with families of the victims.
Obama said he told the families that "all of America and much of the world is thinking about them." He met with them at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, which treated 23 of the people injured in the mass shooting; 10 remain there, seven hurt critically.
Congregations across Colorado prayed for the shooting victims and their relatives. Elderly churchgoers at an aging Presbyterian church within walking distance near Holmes' apartment joined in prayer, though none had ever met him.
Several thousand gathered for healing at the vigil Sunday night, where a banner said, "Angels Walk With Those Who Grieve."
"You're not alone, and you will get through it," said the Rev. Kenneth Berve, pastor at Grant Avenue United Methodist Church and a witness to Friday's horrors. "We can't let fear and anger take control of us."
Meanwhile, the owner of a gun range told the AP that Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member because of his behavior and a "bizarre" message on his voice mail.
He emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 in which he said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, said owner Glenn Rotkovich. When Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard a message on Holmes' voice mail that was "bizarre -- guttural, freakish at best."
He left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said.
Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other weekly to watch the TV show "Lost."
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper. Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and in college, Duong said.
"I had one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an `A,"' said Duong, 24.
The pastor for the family of the suspect also recalled a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically.
"He wasn't an extrovert at all. If there was any conversation, it would be because I initiated it, not because he did," said Jerald Borgie, senior pastor of Penasquitos Lutheran Church. Borgie said he never saw the suspect mingle with others his age at church. He last spoke with Holmes about six years ago.
"He had some goals. He wanted to succeed, he wanted to go out, and he wanted to be the best," Borgie said. "He took pride in his academic abilities. A good student. He didn't brag about it."
During the attack early Friday, Holmes allegedly set off gas canisters and used a semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores in the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.
The gunman's semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack, forcing him to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That malfunction and weapons switch might have saved some lives.
Oates said a 100-round ammunition drum was found in the theater but said he did not know whether it jammed or emptied.
Investigators found a Batman mask inside Holmes' apartment after they finished clearing the home of booby traps and ammunition, a law enforcement official close to the investigation said Sunday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.
The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there, returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday's shooting.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.