Colorado movie shooting suspect charged with murder

Posted at 7:29 AM, Jul 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-30 14:37:23-04

By the CNN Wire Staff

AURORA, Colorado (CNN) — Colorado movie shooting suspect James Holmes was charged Monday with 24 counts of first-degree murder — two counts for each of the 12 people killed in the shooting.

Twelve murder counts cite “deliberation,” and 12 cite “extreme indifference” to the value of human life.

The 24-year-old former doctoral student was also charged with 116 counts of attempted murder; one count of felony possession of explosive devices; and one crime of violence, which is related to his use of an assault weapon, shotgun and handgun during the incident.

The charges bring the total number of counts to 142 in connection with the July 20 massacre in which another 58 moviegoers were wounded in the Century Aurora 16 multiplex.

During the hearing at the Arapahoe County Courthouse, Holmes appeared calm. For a while, he stared blankly at the bottom of the bench but appeared to be aware of what was going on. When the judge asked him if he would speak with his attorneys to ensure he understood why they were asking for more time before a future hearing, he said softly, “Yes.”

About half of the approximately 120 seats in the courtroom were filled with victims or their family members, more of whom watched the proceeding on video in an overflow room.

One young man in the front row of the courtroom leaned forward and stared at Holmes without averting his gaze throughout the 45-minute hearing.

One observer, her left arm and leg in bandages, was wearing a hospital wristband.

Don Lader, who was in the eighth row of the theater when the shooting began, arrived at the courthouse wearing a Batman T-shirt. He said he had seen the movie twice since the aborted premiere.

Holmes’ next hearing is scheduled for August 9.

The suspect was taken Monday into the courthouse through an underground tunnel that connects the courthouse to the Arapahoe County Jail, where he has been held in isolation without bail since the shootings.

In his initial court appearance last Monday, Holmes — his hair dyed various shades of orange — appeared dazed and did not speak.

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said last Monday that deciding whether to pursue the death penalty would take time, since it would involve input from victims and their relatives.

Authorities have remained silent about a possible motive in the case.

A court document filed Friday revealed that Holmes was a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist before the attack.

The disclosure was made in a request filed by Holmes’ public defenders for authorities to hand over a package he sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus, where he had been studying neuroscience before announcing earlier this month that he was withdrawing from the program.

The package seized by authorities under a July 23 search warrant should remain confidential, protected by the doctor-patient relationship, the request said.

“The materials contained in that package include communications from Mr. Holmes to Dr. Fenton that Mr. Holmes asserts are privileged,” said the document. “Mr. Holmes was a psychiatric patient of Dr. Fenton, and his communications with her are protected.”

In response, prosecutors asked for Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester to deny Holmes’ request, saying it contained inaccuracies including claims of media leaks by government officials that in reality may have been fabricated by news organizations.

Sylvester granted a hearing on the request, which is also scheduled for Monday.

Monday’s court appearance comes after a weekend of funerals and memorial services for the victims. On Saturday, family and friends gathered outside Dayton, Ohio, to honor Matt McQuinn, who died while shielding his girlfriend from gunfire.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” said Herb Shaffer, McQuinn’s uncle. “In a moment of crisis, you don’t have time to think about what you’re going to do, all you have time is to react.”

Jessica Ghawi was remembered in San Antonio, Texas, by her brother, Jordan, who encouraged mourners to turn the tragedy into something positive. “If this coward could have done this with this much hate, imagine what we can do with this much love,” he said.

Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sports broadcaster, had narrowly escaped a shooting incident at a Toronto mall less than two months before the killings in Colorado.

“If you’re putting your dreams on hold, you stop that right now,” her brother said. “You don’t know how long you have here.”

A private service was held in Crystal Lake, Illinois, for John Larimer, a 27-year-old Navy petty officer, who received full military honors.

Ten survivors remained hospitalized on Monday, four of them in critical condition.

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