CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — With their anger and tears stirred by the sight of James Holmes in a courtroom with red hair and glassy eyes, the families of those killed in the Colorado theater massacre now must go home to plan their final goodbyes.
Tom Teves’ stare bore into Holmes as the 24-year-old former graduate student sat as though in a daze during his court appearance Monday. Teves’ son was one of the 12 people Holmes is accused of killing after Alex Teves dove to protect his girlfriend in the shooting early Friday.
Another 58 were wounded, including seven critically, when a gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in nearby Aurora.
The father called the red-and-orange-haired object of his anger “a coward” for allegedly mowing down defenseless victims, including a girl.
“Somebody had to be in the courtroom to say, ‘You know what? You went in with ballistic protection and guns, and you shot a 6-year-old,’” he said. “And then when the cops came, you gave up? You’ve got the ballistic protection on. Take on some guys who know how to use guns.”
That anger spilled out when the world got its first view of Holmes, shuffling into court in a maroon jailhouse jumpsuit. Relatives of the shooting victims leaned forward in their seats. Two women held hands tightly, one shook her head. One woman’s eyes welled up with tears.
Robert Blache watched video clips from the 12-minute court appearance with his injured daughter Christina, who was shot in both legs during the rampage, and questioned Holmes’ sanity.
“He doesn’t look surprised at any of it, but he seemed amazed at what was happening. I’m pretty sure he’s not sane,” Blache said.
To Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Holmes looked like “a person who’s been through an emotional maelstrom and therefore might be totally wiped out emotionally.”
Gardere said there could be “a psychotic process going on, and we see that being acted out there. Or, there might be some sort of malingering going on. In other words, trying to make himself look worse than he actually is. Or maybe a combination of all of those things.”
After Holmes was led in handcuffs to the solitary confinement cell where he’d been held since Friday, the families of the dead were left to plan the next steps that they must take.
“We have people from out of town, and some of them need to go home and arrange funerals,” said Boulder Police Department information officer Kim Kobel.
A full military funeral and burial was planned Aug. 3 in Reno, Nev., for Jonathan Blunk, a 26-year-old victim who served three tours in the Middle East and planned to re-enlist with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.
A service for A.J. Boik, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate, also was set for Friday in Aurora. The family has asked that news media stay away from the service.
Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations. Holmes has been assigned a public defender.
His prosecution is likely to be a long road. He won’t be formally charged until next Monday, and police expect months of working with behavioral analysts and scrutinizing Holmes’ relationships to establish a motive. As for a trial, that could take more than a year, said prosecutor Carol Chambers.
Chambers said her office is considering the death penalty, but that a decision will be made in consultation with the victims’ families.
David Sanchez said that would be the appropriate punishment if Holmes is convicted. He said his pregnant daughter escaped without injury but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition. His 21-year-old daughter, Katie Medley, was scheduled to deliver her baby at any time.
“When it’s your own daughter and she escaped death by mere seconds, I want to say it makes you angry,” Sanchez said. He said Medley and her husband, Caleb, 23, waited a year to watch the movie.
An interview with a witness and a wounded theatergoer revealed that the gunman may have shouted at some of the victims before shooting them. Friends Stephanie Davies and Allie Young said the gunman moved around the room yelling and seemingly targeting people.
“He would shout, ‘What are you doing? I said stand up!’ And he would pick people up. I saw him stand over someone. I just see hair and him holding the shirt and boom,” said Davies, 21.
Young, 19, was shot in the neck, damaging her carotid artery and knocking her into the aisle. Davies said she applied pressure to the wound and also managed to call 911.
“We were laying there in the mouth of hell — there’s smoke and explosions and guns, bats flying across the screen because the movie’s still playing. It’s dark. It’s every child’s worst nightmare,” said Davies, a native of Hemet, Calif.
Chambers’ office is responsible for the convictions of two of the three people on Colorado’s death row. Chambers also is the only state district attorney to seek the death penalty in any case in the last five years, said Michael Radelet, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who tracks death penalty cases.
Colorado uses the death penalty relatively sparingly. It has executed just one inmate since capital punishment was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976. The state legislature fell one vote short of abolishing the death penalty in 2009.
At a news conference in San Diego, where Holmes’ family lives, their lawyer refused to answer questions about him and his relationship to the family. Lisa Damiani said later: “Everyone’s concerned” about the possibility of the death penalty.
When asked if they stood by Holmes, Damiani said, “Yes, they do. He’s their son.”
Weeks before, Holmes quit a 35-student Ph.D. program in neuroscience for reasons that aren’t clear. He had earlier taken an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year but University of Colorado Denver officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
University officials have refused to answer questions about Holmes.
“To the best of our knowledge at this point, we think we did everything that we should have done,” Donald Elliman, the university chancellor, told reporters.
The judge has issued an order barring lawyers in the case from publicly commenting on matters including evidence, whether a plea deal is in the works or results of any examination or test.
Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt and Thomas Peipert in Aurora; Dan Elliott and Colleen Slevin in Denver and Alex Katz in New York contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- If Alex Pareene was a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
- Federal court strikes down Arizona abortion ban
- Jodi Arias: I deserve a second chance
- Oklahoma residents return home to pick up the pieces
- Florida man with connection to Tsarnaev killed by FBI
- FBI identifies 5 Benghazi suspects
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11