According to several major sources James E. Holmes, accused mass murderer in the July 20th Aurora, Colorado shooting, has been charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.
In a July 23rd hearing and Holmes first public appearance, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester told Holmes he was accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others in an early morning crowded movie premiere of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Many of the victims attended today’s sentencing where seats were set aside for shooting victims [and their families] who experienced what many label one of the worse mass shootings in American history.
Colorado prosecutors filed 24 counts of murder against Holmes, a former University of Colorado neuroscience student. For each victim who died in the rampage, Holmes, 24, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one for intending to cause harm and another for acting with extreme indifference to human life, according to court documents.
Prosecutors also filed 116 counts of attempted murder against Holmes, who Aurora police said booby-trapped his apartment with the intent to kill any officers who attempted to enter his apartment after responding to the theater attack. The suspect is also charged with one count of possession of explosives and one count of committing a crime of violence.
Today’s hearing was not televised at the request of the defense. District Chief Judge William Sylvester barred video and still cameras from the hearing, saying expanded coverage could interfere with Holmes’ right to a fair trial.
News sources report that Holmes was shackled around his wrists and ankles and was escorted into Arapahoe County Courthouse by two sheriffs deputies. Five other sheriffs deputies were standing in the courtroom.
According to information from sources present in what has been reported as a packed courtroom, Holmes appeared just as dazed as he did in his first court appearance. In contrast, however, to the total lack of communication in his first appearance, Holmes at one point exchanged a few words with one of his attorneys today.
He was not expected to enter pleas today. He ultimately could verbally enter a plea, or his attorneys could enter it for him. Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver said, “I don’t think it’s too hard to predict the path of this proceeding… this is not a whodunit. … The only possible defense is insanity.”
Holmes’ public defenders could argue he is not mentally competent to stand trial, a tactic which was also used by lawyers for Jared Loughner, who was accused of killing six people in 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, as well as wounding several others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner, who pleaded not guilty to 49 charges, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and is undergoing treatment at a Missouri prison facility in a bid to make him mentally fit to stand trial.
Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said last Monday that deciding whether to pursue the death penalty would take some time since it would involve input from victims and their relatives.
Authorities have remained silent about a possible motive in the case.
Ten survivors remain hospitalized on Monday, four of them in critical condition.
The next hearing is scheduled for August 9th.