James Holmes charged with murder in Colorado theater shooting

by PhilBalbo on August 14, 2012

  • Sharebar

This article was contributed by Jenny Kim, client manager of Price Benowitz Criminal Defense.

James Eagan Holmes, 24, is the alleged shooter in a horrific slaughter that took place July 20 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater during a premier showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”. Holmes opened fire with a high-power semi-automatic weapon, a shotgun, and a Glock pistol after lobbing gas canisters into the audience. Gunshots killed 12 people, including a six-year-old girl, and wounded 58 others. Some of the wounded remain in critical condition in area hospitals.

On July 27, Holmes appeared in court where he was charged with 12 counts of first degree murder after deliberation, 12 counts of first degree murder with universal malice and extreme indifference, 116 counts of criminal intent to commit murder, relating to the 58 wounded, and one count of possession of an explosive device.

Holmes had also booby-trapped his apartment, with the front door rigged to explode if it was opened, and police said that there were enough explosives in the apartment to have leveled the building. The explosives were successfully disarmed by a police bomb squad after several buildings in the area were evacuated.

Former classmates described the suspect as extremely intelligent. A former doctoral student at the University of Colorado, Holmes had no prior criminal record, but like other mass-killing suspects, he was described by many who knew him as a “lone wolf.” F.B.I agents have maintained that the “lone gunman” is, in general, a greater threat to public safety than groups of terrorists because they live in the shadows, and are very difficult to spot until they attack. Investigators believe that he had been planning the attack for months. Holmes had obtained a suit of full body armor that one police officer said could have allowed him to pass as a member of a SWAT team. He had also purchased 6000 rounds of ammunition, legally, from online sources.

The alleged shooter’s criminal defense lawyer, Tamara Brady, a public defender, requested more time to enter a plea on his behalf. Prevailing opinion is that an insanity defense is likely. There isn’t any argument about whether Holmes was the shooter because he was captured within minutes of the massacre, wearing the body armor, and he told police about the booby-trapped explosives in his apartment. Criminal insanity is a legal rather than a medical or psychiatric term, and under the M’Naughton rule, it is applied when an individual is deemed to be so impaired by a “mental disease or defect” that he was unable to comprehend the nature and quality of the act he was performing, or if he did, he remained unable to discern right from wrong.

Holmes sat in court with dyed, neon-orange hair, sometimes looking sleepy and confused, sometimes with his eyes closed, saying only one word, “yes,” when asked if he would agree to waive a preliminary hearing. District Attorney Carol Chambers has said that she may be seeking the death penalty in this multiple homicide.

Judge William Sylvester ordered the suspect to be held without bond, in solitary confinement, at the Arapahoe Detention Center, and he has forbidden Holmes to have any contact with the victims or any potential witnesses. Sylvester also issued a media gag order and prohibited law enforcement and all attorneys from speaking publicly about the case.

Alana Horowitz, of the Huffington Post, reported that one recently-released inmate alleged that other inmates at the Detention Center were enthusiastically talking about creating an opportunity to kill Holmes.

No related posts.

Previous post:

Next post: