Holmes charged with 142 felony counts in Aurora theater massacre case

In addition to the first-degree murder charges, Holmes was charged with 116 counts of attempted first-degree murder, and 1 count of felony possession of an explosive device. He was also charged with two violent-crime sentencing enhancers, creating an extensive potential prison sentence

BY BRANDON JOHANSSON Staff writer

CENTENNIAL | Appearing more lucid and engaged than at his first court appearance, accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes was charged Monday morning with 142 felony charges, including 24 counts of first-degree murder that, if convicted, would result in a mandatory life sentence without parole or even the death penalty.

Don Lader, Amber Harris

Don Lader, left, and Amber Harris, both of whom were in the theater at the time of the shooting, talk as they arrive at the Arapahoe County Courthouse for an arraignment hearing for accused theater shooter James Holmes, Monday, July 30, 2012 in Centennial, Colo. Twelve people were killed and more than 50 wounded in a shooting attack early Friday at the packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Police have identified the suspected shooter as James Holmes, 24. Colorado prosecutors plan to file formal charges Monday against Holmes, the former neuroscience student. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

APTOPIX Colorado Shooting

Victims are assisted by an advocate, left, as they arrive for an arraignment for suspected theater shooter James Holmes in district court in Centennial, Colo., on Monday, July 30, 2012. Holmes has been charged in the shooting at the Aurora theater on July 20 that killed twelve people and injured more than 50.He is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Colorado Shooting

A victims advocate, left, escorts victims as they arrives for an arraignment for suspected theater shooter James Holmes in district court in Centennial, Colo., on Monday, July 30, 2012. James Holmes has been charged in the shooting at the Aurora theater on July 20 that killed twelve people and injured more than 50. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Rita Paulina

Rita Paulina, in wheelchair, who was injured in the attack, departs the Arapahoe County Courthouse after an arraignment hearing for accused theater shooter James Holmes, Monday, July 30, 2012 in Centennial, Colo. Colorado prosecutors filed formal charges Monday against Holmes, the former neuroscience student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others at an Aurora movie theater. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Karen Pearson,  Richard Orman, William Blair Sylvester,  James Holmes, Daniel King, Tamara Brady.

In this courtroom sketch, suspect James Holmes, third from right, sits in district court Monday, July 30, 2012, in Centennial, Colo., during his arraignment where he was formally charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater, on July 20. From left are: District Judge William Blair Sylvester; suspect James Holmes; and defense attorneys Daniel King and Tamara Brady. (AP Photo/Jeff Kandyba, Pool)

Karen Pearson,  Richard Orman, William Blair Sylvester,  James Holmes, Daniel King, Tamara Brady.

In this courtroom sketch, suspect James Holmes, third from right, sits in district court Monday, July 30, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes was charged Monday with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater. The July 20 attack at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie left 12 people dead and 58 others injured. (AP Photo/Jeff Kandyba, Pool)

Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people and wounding about 50 others during a shooting rampage at a midnight premiere of a new Batman movie at the Century Aurora 16 theater July 20. He appeared in court Monday with his hands and feet shackled, his face unshaven and still sporting unruly bright orange hair.

According to charging documents, Holmes faces two counts of first-degree murder for each of the 12 people slain. One count accuses him of committing first-degree murder after deliberation, the other of committing murder while acting with extreme indifference for human life.

Legal experts say it isn’t unusual for prosecutor to file two murder charges for one victim.

“It’s very common for prosecutors to charge cases in all of the various ways that they believe they can prove a case,” said Karen Steinhauser, a former Denver prosecutor now in private practice.

The extreme indifference charge is often used in cases where a suspect fired a weapon into a crowd, knowing someone could be killed but not targeting a particular individual in that crowd, Steinhauser said.

Jurors can return guilty verdicts on both murder charges, just one, or acquit, she said.

Holmes conferred briefly with his attorneys during the one-hour hearing in Arapahoe County District Court. When the judge asked whether he understood he was waving his right to have an evidentiary hearing within 35 days, Holmes said he did, though his answer was mumbled and difficult to understand from the gallery. Last week, when advised of charges in the same court room, Holmes was wide-eyed and appeared to mentally drift off during brief proceedings.

In addition to the first-degree murder charges, Holmes was charged with 116 counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of felony possession of an explosive device. He was also charged with a violent-crime sentencing enhancer, mandating lengthy sentences on the attempted murder and explosives charges in addition to the life sentences he already faces.

Holmes’ next court appearance is slated for Aug. 9 when attorneys are expected to discuss whether items he allegedly mailed to his psychiatrist at University of Colorado Hospital is subject to privacy laws.

in discussing concerns about whether those documents constitute privileged communication between Holmes and his doctor, Chief Judge William Sylvester stressed that he wants to be careful not to jeopardize the case.

“We absolutely, positively, need to ensure and maintain the integrity of this process and we will do what we need to do in that regard,” he said.

Attorneys argued today over a defense motion to find out who leaked information to the news media about the package Holmes allegedly sent to psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton.

Authorities seized the package July 23, three days after the shooting, after finding it in the mailroom of the medical campus where Holmes studied. Several media outlets reported that it contained a notebook with descriptions of an attack, but Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said in court papers that the parcel hadn’t been opened by the time the “inaccurate” news reports appeared.

Unlike Holmes’ first court appearance July 23, Monday’s hearing was not televised. At the request of the defense, Sylvester barred video and still cameras from the hearing, saying expanded coverage could interfere with Holmes’ right to a fair trial. Last week, Sylvester allowed a live video feed that permitted the world its first glimpse of the shooting suspect, but barred cameras from this appearance.

Security was tight for Monday’s hearing. Armed officers were stationed on the roof of both buildings at the court complex, and law enforcement vehicles blocked entrances to the buildings. Eight armed deputies were in the courtroom and several more were in the hallway.

Investigators said Holmes began stockpiling gear for his assault four months ago and bought his weapons in May and June, well before the shooting spree. He was arrested by police outside the theater.

Analysts said that means it’s likely there’s only one main point of legal dispute between prosecutors and the defense.

“I don’t think it’s too hard to predict the path of this proceeding,” said Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver. “This is not a whodunit. … The only possible defense is insanity.”

Under Colorado law, defendants are not legally liable for their acts if their minds are so “diseased” that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong. However, the law warns that “care should be taken not to confuse such mental disease or defect with moral obliquity, mental depravity, or passion growing out of anger, revenge, hatred, or other motives, and kindred evil conditions.”

Experts said there are two levels of insanity defenses.

Holmes’ public defenders could argue he is not mentally competent to stand trial, which is the argument by lawyers for Jared Loughner, who is accused of killing six people in 2011 in Tucson, Ariz., and wounding several others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner, who has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is undergoing treatment at a Missouri prison facility in a bid to make him mentally fit to stand trial.

If Holmes’ attorneys cannot convince the court that he is mentally incompetent, and he is convicted, they can try to stave off a possible death penalty by arguing he is mentally ill. Prosecutors will decide whether to seek the death penalty in the coming weeks.

He ultimately could verbally enter a plea to the anticipated dozen first-degree murder charges, or his attorneys could enter it for him. Prosecutors may file multiple counts of attempted first-degree murder and other charges against Holmes, who booby trapped his apartment with the intent to kill any officers responding there the night of the theater attack, Aurora police said.

Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver, said there is “pronounced” evidence that the attack was premeditated, which would seem to make an insanity defense difficult. “But,” he said, “the things that we don’t know are what this case is going to hinge on, and that’s his mental state.”

Friends in Southern California, where Holmes grew up, describe him as a smart, sometimes awkward youth fascinated by science. He came to Colorado’s competitive neuroscience doctoral program in June 2011. A year later, he dropped out shortly after taking his year-end exam.

Sylvester has tried to tightly control the flow of information about Holmes, placing a gag order on lawyers and law enforcement, sealing the court file and barring the university from releasing public records relating to Holmes’ year there. A consortium of media organizations, including The Associated Press, is challenging Sylvester’s sealing of the court file.

On Friday, court papers revealed that Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist at the university. But they did not say how long he was seeing Dr. Lynne Fenton and if it was for a mental illness or another problem.

The University of Colorado’s website identified Fenton as the medical director of the school’s Student Mental Health Services. An online resume listed schizophrenia as one of her research interests and stated that she sees 10 to 15 graduate students a week for medication and psychotherapy, as well as five to 10 patients in her general practice as a psychiatrist.

Authorities said Holmes legally purchased four guns before the attack at Denver-area sporting goods stores — a semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and two pistols. To buy the guns, Holmes had to pass background checks that can take as little as 20 minutes in Colorado.

One development over the weekend brought more grief. A woman who was critically wounded and whose 6-year-old daughter was killed suffered a miscarriage because of the trauma, her family said Saturday. Ashley Moser’s daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was the youngest person killed in the attack.

Chambers’ office announced Monday that Lisa Teesch-Maguire, a former legal director of the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center, had been appointed a victims’ rights advocate in the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2R6WLWILBH5HDCKFQO3G3MF6QQ Welcome to my nightmare

    One body, one murder charge. Period.

    • Lshady18769

      No he killed a kid an 11 adults he did what he did an now he will pay for his actions

  • kazimir

    I hope they throw the entire law library at this guy. 

    • Lshady18769

      I agree

  • http://twitter.com/caringface Care with Attitude

    I wish there was not such ardent and righteous protection afforded to people like Holmes…We, as a society, need to protect our citizens when they just go out to live their lives, go to movies, are pregnant… the amount of protection, egg-walking, special treatment for this wacked out weirdo has just gone too far from sane.

    • Lshady18769

      If one of us did anything to him we would be no better then him so there is someone in prison that will take care of him not someone with freadom an perity an the only reason that will happen is cause of a kid got killed

  • Ezio Gmu08

    he deserves death penalty. what else could it be? life time in prison is not freaking enough for this. Lethal injection 3 doze would be enough i guess. thats nothing compared what he did to those innocent victims,

    • Lshady18769

      I have to disagree that is the easy way out

  • theQ

    Whatever the sentence…..the last 50 years are the worse.

  • Ranger43

    so there is a discussion whether he should get the death penalty?  why?  make the trial very short then execute him.  he does not deserve to breath air and I don’t want to spend my tax dollars keeping him alive.

  • Pingback: Prosecutors pursue two-track strategy against James Holmes in Colorado … | Strategy Innovation & Entrepreneurship()

  • stagedevents

    Colorado Massacre Linked To Historic Bank Fraud – Killer Does Not Appear To Be James Holmes
    http://anoncentral.tumblr.com/post/28109989079/colorado-massacre-linked-to-historic-bank-fraud

  • stagedevents

    Will the real James Holmes Please Stand Up?
    http://rense.com/general95/realjames.html

  • FATHER1786

    The story says court papers revealed that Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist at the university and he was being treated. This is very important data as knowing WHAT drugs Holmes was on will say a lot – look at their black box warnings.  Now, Pharma-terrorism will try to hide this and will continue to attack our Constitutional rights like the 2nd Amendment by using his story so I am hoping you see the attached video. I am not excusing his crimes as that deserves the full force of the law as deemed by a Jury but what I am saying is readers can change a diabolic plan and save future lives! 
    One of 0ur Founding Fathers (Thomas Paine) said,  “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither
    inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse
    for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to
    encourage than prevent homicides from an unarmed man, may be attacked
    with greater confidence than an armed man.” So isn’t time we all know
    exactly how it is a man can actually create such a terrorist this? Learn more about similar
    tragedy and a common denominator. Go to:
    http://www.cchr.org/videos/psy
    God Bless and let more truth be known. 
    Lets stop the Pharma-Terrorists trying to subdue our nation.  Protect the Constitution and help expose the Pharma-Terrorists industry!

    • Ineedmoney52

      ok see if this S*** would have happened in turkey or Germany  or well just about any other country they would just taken him put him in front on a firing squad and told them to open fire….and thats what we need to do….because what if he would have taken your moms life or you dad or brother or sister or your baby and or kid…you would think the same you would be PISSED you would want him dead and seek for something serious to be done…because you cant tell me that he is SLOW or INSANE bc he was a F’n COLLAGE GRAD…. so save that crap he needs to be dealt with properly…..some might say if we just kill him that we are showing U.S. citizens that it is ok to kill people that have killed others but thats not right we would be showing them that if you F*** with are U.S. citizens then you will be killed and like i predict james holmes will do they wont be able to plead mentally insane or crazy or mentally unstable….now if he had a real problem then ya that would be fine but yall are all so naive bc he had all of this planned he bought the guns and ammunition MONTHS a head of time….so WHAT MAKES YOU THINK HE DIDNT HAVE THE DOCTOR THING PLANNED AS WELL…..he had all of it planned he was going to go see a doctor for a while commit his crime then he would just stand out by his car tell them about the bomb go to his court case not say anything and act like he has no clue as to what they are talking about and then his second case pretty much do the same thing and watch he is going to try to plead mentally insane or mentally unstable….he just needs to be killed slowly and painfully….

      PLEASE LEAVE YOU OPINION AND OR COMMENT    

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