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Entries in James Holmes (46)

Saturday
Apr202013

James Holmes' Prosecutors Want to Use Jail Video and Audio at Trial

RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post(ARAPHAHOE, Colo.) -- The prosecution seeking the death penalty against James Holmes in the Aurora theater shooting case want to see what he's been doing in jail so that they can possibly use it against him during the penalty phase of trial if he is found guilty by a jury.

In a new notice filed Friday in Arapahoe District Court, District Attorney George Brauchler made a list of evidence he wants to see in order to establish a capital murder case, including "any video or audio recording of the defendant and/or any person he interacts with while incarcerated."

Former Colorado prosecutor Bob Grant says asking for jailhouse recordings is an excellent way to catch an inmate off-guard. "Every jail phone has big sign right there on the wall and the prisoners all sign a document that 'This phone is monitored' and it doesn't make a darn bit of difference. They say the most incriminating stuff," said Grant, a former district attorney for Adams County.

Grant, the last district attorney to successfully prosecute a death penalty case in Colorado, added, "I don't doubt that in some of those recordings the prosecutor is looking for something to establish state of mind. If he's (Holmes) making sense like a common man would make, then it would help them to disprove insanity."

There were 74 types of evidence requested in the motion, including cell site data from Holmes' cellular phone, 911 calls "related to disturbance complaints" the day before and of the murders, and spent shell casings collected from the Byers Canyon Rifle Range.

It's the first time law enforcement has publicly mentioned that the shooter may have used the range for target practice.

The penalty phase may be necessary because on April 1, Brauchler announced that he would seek the death penalty against Holmes.

He is charged with 166 counts in the shootings at the Aurora Cinemark theater on July 20 which left 12 people dead, including an 8-year-old girl. Another 70 people were injured.

Holmes' trial is scheduled to begin in February 2014.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar122013

James Holmes Expected to Enter Plea at Court Hearing

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(DENVER) -- James Holmes will be in a Colorado courtroom on Tuesday, where he is expected to enter a plea to charges stemming from the deadly shooting massacre at a movie theater in Aurora last summer.

Holmes, 25, is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and explosives charges, for allegedly opening fire during a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20.  Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded by gunfire.  Another 12 people sustained other injuries.

It's widely expected that Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of insanity, however, defense attorneys could still ask the judge to delay the arraignment.  Once a plea is entered, the district attorney will have about 60 days to determine if prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

If Holmes pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, he will be immediately committed and court-appointed psychiatrists will determine if Holmes was insane when he allegedly opened fire at the movie theater.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar072013

Movie Massacre Case: James Holmes Plea Expected Next Week

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(DENVER) -- Accused Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes is expected to enter a plea next week, sources told ABC News, after his legal team lost an attempt to challenge the constitutionality of Colorado laws governing mental health defenses and insanity pleas.

In motions filed last week, public defenders asked Judge William Sylvester to answer a series of legal questions, including whether or not a court-ordered mental evaluation could be used against Holmes if he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but later withdrew it.

“In order to effectively represent Mr. Holmes, counsel must be able to accurately assess the consequences of a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity,” his attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors argued there were no constitutional issues to settle, pointing out that public defenders in two previous and unrelated cases filed similar motions that were denied.

“Defendant has not met his burden to show any of the statutes he challenges are unconstitutional,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed by District Attorney George Brauchler’s office.

In an order filed late Thursday, Sylvester largely ruled against Holmes’ legal team, investigative sources told ABC News.

A court spokesman, who had not seen Sylvester’s ruling and could not comment on what it said, confirmed that prosecutors and defense teams received copies of the order Thursday evening. Attorneys on both sides did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

The judge’s ruling sweeps aside potentially time-consuming legal wrangling that threatened to delay an arraignment hearing set for March 12, when Holmes is expected to enter a plea.

Holmes, now 25, is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and explosives charges, after prosecutors say he opened fire July 20 during a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded by gunfire. Another 12 people sustained other injuries.

Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek the death penalty. Holmes has not entered an insanity plea, but his attorneys said he “is considering” the option.

Defense attorneys not involved with the case said that by raising constitutional questions, Holmes’ lawyers may be trying to “build a record” that might help them in potential future appeals.

“Many things are filed to preserve the defendant’s right to appeal,” said Denver defense attorney Larry Pozner. “If you don’t ask, you can’t complain later.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan162013

Accused Aurora Shooter James Holmes' Psychiatrist Sued

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(NEW YORK) -- The psychiatrist who treated accused Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooter James Holmes is being sued by a woman whose husband was among the 12 audience members killed at last July's midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Chantel Blunk, the widow of Jonathan T. Blunk, claims in her lawsuit against Dr. Lynne Fenton that she and five other defendants should have placed Holmes on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

Blunk alleges that Holmes told Fenton that he "fantasized about killing a lot of people" a month before the shootings.  At the time, Holmes was a graduate student at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus where Fenton worked.

The suit claims Fenton took no other action besides notifying CU's Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team about Holmes.

In fact, Blunk also states that when a campus police officer asked if Holmes should be put in psychiatric hold, Fenton allegedly rejected the idea.

University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said "the university believes the lawsuit is not well-founded legally or factually" and has hired attorneys to defend Fenton.

Holmes faces 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Aurora Shooting Suspect James Holmes Can Face Trial

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- In a ruling that comes as little surprise, the judge overseeing the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre has ruled that there is enough evidence against James Holmes to proceed to a trial.

In an order posted late Thursday, Judge William Sylvester wrote that “the People have carried their burden of proof and have established that there is probable cause to believe that Defendant committed the crimes charged.”

The ruling came after a three-day preliminary hearing this week that revealed new details about how Holmes allegedly planned for and carried out the movie theater shooting, including how investigators say he amassed an arsenal of guns and ammunition, how he booby-trapped his apartment to explode, and his bizarre behavior after his arrest.

Holmes is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and other charges related to the July 20 shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded by gunfire. An additional 12 people suffered non-gunshot injuries.

One of the next legal steps is an arraignment, at which Holmes will enter a plea. The arraignment was originally expected to take place Friday morning.

Judge Sylvester indicated through a court spokesman that he would allow television and still cameras into the courtroom, providing the outside world the first images of Holmes since a July 23 hearing. Plans for cameras in court, however, were put on hold Thursday afternoon.

“The defense has notified the district attorney that it is not prepared to proceed to arraignment in this case by Friday,” wrote public defenders Daniel King, Tamara Brady and Kristen Nelson Thursday afternoon in a document objecting to cameras in court.

A hearing in the case still will take place Friday morning, but since it will no longer be an arraignment, cameras will not be allowed.

Holmes’ attorneys have said in court that the former University of Colorado neuroscience student is mentally ill. The district attorney overseeing the case has not yet announced whether Holmes, now 25, can face the death penalty.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan092013

James Holmes Smiled and Smirked at Menacing Self-Portraits in Court, Victims Say

Courtroom sketch by Bill Robles(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- After two days of apparent indifference, accused Aurora shooter James Holmes smiled and smirked at disturbing self-portraits and images of weapons shown in court Wednesday, according to the families of victims who watched him.

"When he sees himself, he gets very excited and his eyes crinkle," Caren Teves said outside of the courthouse, after the hearing. "Your eyes are the window to the soul and you could see that he was very delighted in seeing himself in that manner."

Teves' son Alex Teves, 24, died in the shooting.

Prosecutors showed photos that Holmes took of himself hours before he allegedly carried out a massacre at a Colorado movie theater. He took a series of menacing self-portraits with his dyed orange hair curling out of from under a black skull cap and his eyes covered with black contacts. In some of the photos, guns were visible.

Those haunting photographs, found on his iPhone, were shown in court Wednesday on the last day of a preliminary testimony that will lead to a decision on whether the case will go to trial. The hearing concluded without Holmes' defense calling any witnesses.

The judge's decision on whether the case will proceed to trial is expected on Friday.

Holmes, 25, is accused of opening fire on a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and wounding dozens others during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

The courtroom's setup kept members of the media from being able to see Holmes' face as the photos were displayed, but victims and their families could watch him.

Teves said that Holmes was "absolutely smirking" when images of his weapons and the iPhone photos he took of himself were shown in court.

"I watched him intently," Caren Teves' husband Tom Teves said. "I watched him smile every time a weapon was discussed, every time they talked about his apartment and how he had it set up [with booby traps], and he could have gave a darn about the people, to be quite frank. But he's not crazy one bit. He's very, very cold. He's very, very calculated."

Holmes has exhibited bizarre behavior after the shooting and while in custody. His defense team has said that he is mentally ill, but have not said if he will plead insanity.

"He has a brain set that no one here can understand and we want to call him crazy because we want to make that feel better in our society, but we have to accept the fact that there are evil people in our society that enjoy killing any type of living thing," a frustrated Tom Teves said. "That doesn't make them crazy. And don't pretend he's crazy. He's not crazy."

The photos presented in court showed Holmes mugging for his iPhone camera just hours before the shooting. Half-a-dozen photos showed Holmes with his clownish red-orange hair and black contact lenses, giving the photos a particularly disturbing edge.

Before the prosecution called for the photos, public defender Tammy Brady objected. Prosecutor Karen Pearson said that the photos showed deliberation and extreme indifference. Judge William Sylvester overruled the objection and the photos were released.

In Pearson's closing statement, she said there is an abundance of direct evidence that Holmes "wanted to kill all of them. He knew what he was doing."

She said that Holmes had a "depravity of human heart" and that he "went into the theater without knowing or caring who they are." The prosecutor said he "picked the perfect venue for the perfect crime."

Pearson said prosecutors made a decision not to include all of the people who were in theaters eight and nine that night. If they had, they could have had 1,500 counts against Holmes. Instead, they included anyone who had physical injuries, including those with gunshot wounds and those who were hurt running out of the theater. There are 166 counts in all.

The judge has taken the case under advisement and there will be a status hearing or arraignment on Friday, when the judge will decide whether the case will proceed to a full trial. Holmes' attorneys have not yet said whether they plan on using an insanity defense, in which case Holmes could possibly be deemed unfit to stand trial. Another possibility is that the hearing could set the stage for a plea deal.

This week's testimony has included emotional testimony from first responders, details about Holmes' elaborately booby-trapped apartment, a rundown of his arsenal of legally purchased weapons and descriptions of his bizarre behavior following the shooting.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan092013

James Holmes Legally Bought Arsenal of Guns, Chemicals

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- Accused Aurora, Colo., shooter James Holmes legally bought thousands of bullets, explosive chemicals and four guns months before prosecutors say he opened fire on a crowded movie theater, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent testified on Tuesday.

The agent testified on the second day of a preliminary hearing, which is essentially a mini-trial as prosecutors present witness testimony and evidence to outline their case against the former neuroscience student.

Agent Steve Beggs gave the prosecution a timeline that showed Holmes started his buying spree on May 10, 2012 with the online purchase of tear gas grenades.  From then until July 14, Beggs testified, Holmes legally bought nearly 6,300 rounds of ammunition, two Glock .40 caliber pistols, a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, a 12-guage shotgun, ballistic protection clothing, beam laser lights, bomb-making material and handcuffs.  Some of the purchases were made online and some were made in person.

Video surveillance taken as Holmes was buying several of the items in person showed that he had what Beggs described as “reddish-orange hair” at the time.  Holmes hair was dyed the same striking color at the time of the shooting.

Holmes’ defense attorney Tamara Brady asked Beggs if there is a legal process to keep from selling these items legally in Colorado to a “severely mentally ill person.”  Beggs answered that there is not.

The hearing at the Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo., could last all week.  Judge William Sylvester will decide whether the case will go to trial.  

Holmes’ attorneys have not yet said whether they plan on using a insanity defense, in which case Holmes could possibly be deemed unfit to stand trial.  Another possibility is that the hearing could set the stage for a plea deal.

If the case does not go to trial, this week’s hearing could be the only opportunity for public testimony and release of information in a case where gag orders and sealed documents have kept much of the evidence and information away from the public.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan072013

Accused Aurora Shooter James Holmes Bought Ticket 12 Days Before Shooting

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- Accused Aurora movie theater gunman James Holmes bought his movie ticket 12 days before the shooting, it was revealed in court Monday during the emotional first day of a preliminary hearing.

Aurora Police Department homicide detective Matthew Ingui testified that there is no video surveillance of the actual shooting, but there are several photos of Holmes checking into the theater kiosk with his cellphone. He scanned his phone three times.

Surveillance footage shown in court for the first time also showed Holmes lingering by the concession stand for about three minutes before entering theater nine dressed in dark pants, a light colored shirt and a skull cap. He would later be caught wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask.

Another video showed the lobby the moment theater staff heard shots ring out. Some of them ducked behind counters as people started streaming out of the front door.

Ingui also testified about the positions of the bodies in the theater, strewn across seats and aisles.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding dozens more in the movie theater massacre.

Earlier in the day, two veteran police officers broke down on the stand, with one officer choking up when he described finding the body of a 6-year-old girl inside the theater.

Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard needed a moment to compose himself as he described finding the little girl, Veronica Moser Sullivan, in the blood-splattered theater.

An officer felt for a pulse and thought Veronica was still alive, Jonsgaard said, but the officer then realized he was feeling his own pulse.

The officers wiped away tears as they described the horror they found inside of theater nine.

Officer Justin Grizzle recounted seeing bodies lying motionless on the floor, surrounded by so much blood he nearly slipped and fell.

Grizzle, a former paramedic, says ambulances had not yet made it to the theater, so he began loading victims into his patrol car and driving to the hospital.

"I knew I needed to get them to the hospital now, " Grizzle said, tearing up. "I didn't want anyone else to die."

Grizzle drove six victims in four trips, saying that by the end there was so much blood in his patrol car he could hear it "sloshing around."

An officer who took the stand earlier Monday described Holmes as "relaxed" and "detached" when police confronted him just moments after the shooting stopped.

The first two officers to testify Monday described responding to the theater and spotting Holmes standing by his car at the rear of the theater on July 20, 2012. He allegedly opened fire in the crowded theater during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

Officer Jason Oviatt said he first thought Holmes was a cop because he was wearing a gas mask and helmet, but as he got closer realized he was not an officer and held Holmes at gunpoint.

Throughout the search and arrest, Holmes was extremely compliant, the officer said.

"He was very, very relaxed," Oviatt said. "These were not normal reactions to anything. He seemed very detached from it all."

Oviatt said Holmes had extremely dilated pupils and smelled badly when he was arrested.

Officer Aaron Blue testified that Holmes volunteered that he had four guns and that there were "improvised explosive devices" in his apartment and that they would go off if the police triggered them.

Holmes was dressed for the court hearing in a red jumpsuit and has brown hair and a full beard. He did not show any reaction when the officers pointed him out in the courtroom.

This is the most important court hearing in the case so far, essentially a mini-trial as prosecutors present witness testimony and evidence -- some never before heard -- to outline their case against the former neuroscience student.

The hearing at the Arapahoe County District Court could last all week. At the end, Judge William Sylvester will decide whether the case will go to trial.

Prosecutors say they will present potentially gruesome photos and videos in addition to 911 calls from the night of the shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded. They will aim to convince the judge that there is enough evidence against Holmes to proceed to a trial.

It is expected that the prosecution's witnesses will include the Aurora police lead detective, first responders, the coroner and a computer forensic specialist.

In an unusual move, defense attorneys may call two witnesses. Last week, the judge ruled that Holmes can call the witnesses to testify on his "mental state," but it is not clear who the witnesses are.

A court-imposed gag order days after the shooting has kept many of the details under wraps, so much of the information could be new to the public.

Holmes has been charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder, possession of explosives and crime of violence. The district attorney has not decided whether to seek the death penalty, and Holmes' defense team believes Holmes is mentally ill. He has not entered a plea.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan072013

Preliminary Hearing Starts for Accused Colorado Shooter James Holmes

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- A preliminary hearing for accused Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes is set to begin Monday morning in Centennial, Colo.  Hundreds of people including witnesses, victims and families are expected to attend.

The hearing will essentially be a mini-trial in which prosecutors will present witness testimony and evidence -- some of which has never been revealed before -- to convince Judge William Sylvester that there is enough of a case against Holmes to proceed to a trial.

Witnesses to be called for the prosecution include the Aurora police lead detective, first responders, the Arapahoe County coroner and likely a computer forensic specialist, according to prosecution sources who declined to be identified, citing a gag order in the case.

A top priority, the prosecution sources say, will be showing that Holmes acted with premeditation when he allegedly murdered 12 people and wounded 58 on the night of July 20 during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

Defense attorneys may pursue a legal strategy to show that Holmes was not in his right mind at the time of the shooting.

Holmes, who has not yet entered a plea, has been repeatedly described in court by his legal team as mentally ill. While a graduate student at the University of Colorado, he was in the care of a psychiatrist.

Prosecutors say they will also present photos, video and 911 calls during the hearing, which is expected to last all week.

The preliminary hearing will be held in the largest courtroom available in Arapahoe County, which holds about 100 people.  Overflow crowds will be able to watch the proceeding on a video and audio feed in several rooms around the court complex, including a jury assembly room that has space for about 300 people.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

James Holmes’ Defense Witnesses in Colorado Shooting to Testify on ‘Mental State’

Joshua Lott/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- A judge ruled Thursday that public defenders for accused Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes can call two unidentified witnesses at next week’s preliminary hearing to testify about the defendant’s “mental state.”

Arapahoe County, Colo., prosecutors had sought to keep the witnesses out of court, but Judge William Sylvester ruled that the now-25-year-old accused killer has a right to call the witnesses at a preliminary hearing.

The Jan. 7 preliminary hearing will essentially be a mini-trial in which prosecutors will present witness testimony and evidence to convince the judge that there is enough of a case against Holmes to proceed to a trial.

Witnesses to be called for the prosecution include the Aurora police lead detective, first responders, the Arapahoe County coroner and likely a computer forensic specialist, according to prosecution sources who declined to be identified, citing a gag order in the case.

A top priority, the prosecution sources say, will be showing that Holmes acted with premeditation when he allegedly murdered 12 people and wounded 58 on the night of July 20 during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

Defense attorneys may pursue a legal strategy to show that Holmes was not in his right mind at the time of the shooting.

Holmes, who has not yet entered a plea, has been repeatedly described in court by his legal team as mentally ill. While a graduate student at the University of Colorado, he was in the care of a psychiatrist.

Prosecutors say they will also present photos, video and 911 calls during the hearing, which is expected to last all week.

It’s not clear what the two witnesses’ relationship is to the shooting, or to Holmes.

Prosecutors, Judge Sylvester’s order says, contend that “neither witness has personal knowledge of the events at the Century Aurora 16 Theater.”

Sylvester said the witnesses are non-expert “lay witnesses” who have so far chosen not to be interviewed by defense investigators but have been cooperating with law enforcement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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