A different James Eagan Holmes, appearing in public for the second time since he was detained in connection with the July 20 shootings at a midnight showing of a Batman movie, entered the Arapahoe County courtroom Monday where he was formally charged on a staggering 142 counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder, 116 counts of criminal intent to commit murder.
The handcuffed, 24-year-old Holmes, wearing a maroon jumpsuit and his signature mop of unkempt, orange-dyed hair, appeared more lucid than he did a week ago at his advisement hearing, looking ahead at District Court Judge William B. Sylvester from the defense table where he sat next to Arapahoe County public defenders Daniel King and Tamara Holmes.
“He looked very alert and very sane,” said Maryellen Hansen, aunt of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, who was killed at the theater and her mother Ashley critically injured. Moser lost a baby she was carrying on Saturday, but legal experts say killing an unborn child will not be added to the list of murder charges against Holmes.
Hansen was one of the attendees at the Arapahoe County courthouse packed with victims and their families, law enforcement officials and the media. No cameras were allowed at the hearing because of a media gag order imposed by Sylvester last week.
“A conviction of First Degree murder carries a sentence from life-in-prison to death,” Sylvester told Holmes.
The murder charges against Holmes doubled as 12 charges of ” premeditated” First Degree murder and 12 charges of “extreme indifference” First Degree murder. The 116 charges of attempted murder carry a maximum penalty of 48 years each.
“He did look evil,” said Hansen, “but much different from the first hearing where he just looked spaced out,” she said.
Hansen said as a Christian she does not favor the Death Penalty, but would like to see Holmes tried as a terrorist and stay behind bars “living with what he did for the rest of his life.”
Holmes will appear in court again on November 13 at a Preliminary Hearing that is expected to take most of that week, where more details of his crimes will be heard and his plea may be entered.
Lawyers for the defense, prosecution and the media will reconvene at the Arapahoe County courthouse on August 9 at a status conference to discuss a gag order placed on court proceedings by Sylvester, as well as a motion of client privilege filed by Holmes’ attorneys on Friday. These motions will be decided in a hearing a week later on August 16, according to Sylvester.
Despite “sealing” details of the case last week in a gag order, Sylvester Monday unsealed the People’s”Felony Complaints” which allowed the public to see the specific charges against Holmes. The 116 counts of “Criminal Intent to Commit Murder” included the names of all 116 people at the movie theater in Aurora on the night of the shootings.
On Monday, Sylvester granted Holmes’ attorneys the return of the controversial “notebook” that was seized by police previously from the University of Colorado mailroom, that Holmes sent his psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton.
Holmes’ lawyers say the notebook, part of a “package” seized by police from the University of Colorado mailroom, is privileged because it’s communication between a patient and his therapist. In a motion on Friday they asked for the return of the “notebook.”
Also addressed at the Monday hearing were two video surveillance “discs” in the possession of the prosecution, one showing the interior of the mailroom at the University of Colorado and the other showing the Adam’s County sheriff‘s office where the “package” was transferred and examined.
“We were told by the under sheriff that we could not see the contents of the notebook,” State’s Attorney Richard Orman told the court. If the information between Holmes and his psychiatrist Dr. Fenton is considered privileged, then no one but Holmes and his counsels are entitled to possess it.
Orman agreed his office would copy the discs and send them to Holmes’ attorneys this week.
Colorado media attorney Steven Zansberg also addressed the court Monday, asking for media access to court proceedings that was blocked by Sylvester last week. The Denver Post and 19 other media organizations on Friday filed a motion seeking to reverse Sylvester’s gag order, which will be addressed at the hearings in August.Share on Facebook