PERRY: James Holmes Aurora shooting trial staged to become theater of the absurd

Any trial and jury consultant in the country, some of whom have been paid handsomely to consult for both sides in this case, will reveal that trials like this aren’t about getting to the truth, it’s about using theatrics, psychology and research to get jurors to take their side and stick with it

Even the sets are nearly ready for what’s certain to be one of the biggest, most sorrowful productions ever to open in Colorado: The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial of James Holmes.

The pile of potential jurors grows, and the opening act — I mean arguments — is getting warmed up for the April 27 premier. Welcome to the Saddest Show on Earth.

Last week, prosecutors told Judge Carlos Samour Jr. that the court was going to have to figure out how to physically accommodate a scaled set of the Century 16 Theater. That’s where Holmes slaughtered 12 people, wounding another 70, and terrorizing hundreds more. Later, prosecutors told Samour they wanted photos of the grisly crime scene planned for the jury, hidden from the public.

Get ready for some serious theater, folks.

Don’t be mistaken that what’s barreling down on this Arapahoe County courtroom is some form of sophisticated justice. It’s billed as an attempt to hold Holmes accountable for his monstrous crime. But Holmes already confessed. He did it. All of it.

The trial is supposed to settle whether Holmes was so mentally ill that he was unable to know how vile and despicable his actions were. Or, the jury will decide whether Holmes viciously pulled off the heinous crime because, well, we don’t know yet why prosecutors think Holmes was anything but whack-job crazy. That will be the surprise ending of the show.

Prosecutors’ job is to make sure the jury sees Holmes as a mildly sick, inhuman freak who was able to plot and carry out this outrage, just like the rest of us would, if we were as sick as Holmes. Mildly sick that is. For months, prosecutors have been analyzing the best way to persuade the jury to reject an insanity argument, and instead, send Holmes to death row for about 30 years, and most likely many decades beyond that. This is all at a cost of tens of millions of dollars for the first show, and then the endless revivals during decades to come while society houses Holmes on death row.

Here’s the thing. Prosecutors determined that Holmes wasn’t crazy early on, long before a mountain of evidence was collected about whether he really is, or was, straight-jacket nuts when he opened fire in that theater. Do you really think any prosecutor would have the nerve to back off a death-penalty case after the gauntlet was thrown? Of course not.

Now, the district attorney’s office is working on a way to horrify the jury. Make them angry and repulsed so that they, too, will want to see revenge carried out against Holmes. He’ll be painted as an unlikeable, calculating bully with no limits.

And the defense? Watch closely during the trial as the jury watches his lawyers smile at Holmes, touch his arm, tell stories about kind and normal things Holmes did all his life. They want to horrify the jury, too. Not with details about the crime, although that, too, could easily work in their favor because most rational people would believe you would have to be really whacked out to create such repugnant death and destruction. The defense will have endless, horrifying tales about how deranged and sick Holmes was, and how no one intervened and stopped him from what he told so many he wanted to do.

No, I haven’t been privy to the case, and I’m not a clairvoyant. This is how these trials go, and this show-boat will be no exception.

The defense’s job is to select one juror, find one person, probably a woman, and appeal to that one juror to pull away from the herd mentality and stand firm that Holmes would have to have been insane to do such a monstrous thing. That even if that one juror believed they should be endowed with the power of life and death, inflicting it on Holmes does nothing to make Aurora safer, to bring back the dead or in any way provide retribution to so many people he made suffer.

Any trial and jury consultant in the country, some of whom have been paid handsomely to consult for both sides in this case, will reveal that trials like this aren’t about getting to the truth, it’s about using theatrics, psychology and research to get jurors to take their side and stick with it.

The stakes are monumental. Republican District Attorney George Brauchler is a likely candidate for Colorado governor in 2018. It could be spectacularly bad for him if he loses this case, allowing Holmes to maybe walk free some day. But it would be easy to blame the jury later, rather than let Holmes plead and take forever in prison as punishment for his crime.

That would never do. So, places everyone. The show must go on.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

  • doc goonie

    Witnesses that were in the theater said there were multiple people involved throwing canisters of something deploying smoke / gas from two different angles, but the police say James Holmes acted alone. Even the police scanner recordings stated there was another shooter in a blue plaid shirt. If the authorities refuse to investigate the possibility that someone else was involved other than James Holmes, I’ll struggle to believe the “official” story.

  • Logic

    A second shooter? Way to go you conspiracy nut. You guys are so clueless. How long is it going to take for you idiots to stop believing undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenics on YouTube that present circumstantial and subjective crap that has been debunked from the start?

    You’re a disgrace to the people that were forever taken by the actions of James that day.

    Doc, you’re so clueless you don’t even know why you believe what you do. You’re more comfortable believing YouTube videos than actually looking up the crap you hear from idiots online than accepting that there was no conspiracy. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN DEBUNKED. YOU JUST DONT WANT YOUR CONSPIRACY TO BE WRONG SO YOU IGNORE THE ACTUAL FACTS.

    • Dancing Mad

      I find it fascinating that people like you always react like this, with wild hyperbole and sweeping statements that usually end in all-caps insults, all while failing to address the original post’s claims.

      Have you listened to the police scanner? Because I haven’t. So I don’t know which one of you is right. But I DO know which one of you sounds more rational, and it ain’t you, bub.

      • Logic

        Right! I sound less rational because I don’t buy the conspiracy side of this argument. Do you honestly believe that the police spent five minutes gathering information after his arrest? Really? Given that the amount of information gathered in evidence alone in this act is well beyond 1,000 pages of witness testimony, employees, cameras located (more than likely) in every corner of every hall in the theater; to name a few- points to the same thing along with all the physical evidence that James acted alone and was the only shooter…..Yes, I know, it must be hard to you to accept.

        Beyond this, this entire ‘police radio’ aspect is pathetic. It’s not evidence. It is subjective information from people who were in fear of their own lives calling 911. Let’s think about it. Imagine being a dispatcher for 911 and getting calls about a shooting. Let’s assume that when a portion of these frantic calls were made; the individuals making these calls were in such a state of panic that the information given to the dispatcher was incredibly inaccurate except for one single thing: Someone was shooting people in a theater.

        For example, ten people could have said, “I heard a bunch of shots being fired. There’s people shooting!”

        Also, “I saw a bunch of people running and heard shots. There must have been a few people shooting. But I don’t remember seeing anyone with a gun.”

        Or, “The room was dark and full of smoke. I think the guy with the gun was wearing blue. I’m not sure though.”

        Or, “When I heard the first gunshot I ran out of the theater. Then I heard several shot. I never even got to see what happened. The theater was full of people. I don’t know how many had guns.”

        Now you see these people call 911 and in a frantic state they tell the story to the dispatcher and the dispatcher informs the police of what they were just told. Thus, many different scary stories that only lead to one fact- Someone in the theater is shooting. And we’ll, look what we found. James admits he killed them and the evidence supports the stacks of evidence that was found at the crime scene.

        So, who sounds more rational? Someone who can’t use critical thinking skills and watched a YouTube video who accepts ‘cherry picked’ subjective information rather than an accurate premise of evidence? Or is it the person who actually uses critical thinking skills?

        Hey bub, you ain’t so rational now are you?

    • doc goonie

      Would eye witness accounts of people that were actually there qualify as circumstantial “crap”? Here is a 2 min youtube video where the police say no one else was involved, yet the witnesses both agree there were multiple people involved. At 1 min and 12 secs you can hear him say “he wasnt alone because the 2nd can of tear gas didnt come from his side”.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97tvMaA-pVM

      Does this information present a logical challenge to the official “lone wolf” story or are these eye witnesses just a bunch of conspiracy nuts?

      The term conspiracy theorist is now a term for someone who doesnt believe the story of known liars.

      • Logic

        It’s so evident that you’re completely unaware what subjective information means.
        Let me give you a hint…
        1.) “Witnesses believe multiple people were involved”
        So, this is what someone said. Not what physical evidence proves.
        2.) “Tear Gas”
        People were afraid, thus, the story cannot be accurate. Because you and I both know how accurate people give formation and details when in fear…….Lastly, there’s more than one reason why, if accurate, the Tear Gas, was near another impossible wall…..IT BOUNCED

        You’re an idiot.

  • maryhirzel

    Exactly, Mr. Perry.

    There’s one potential key player who will not be cast or given any lines in this extravaganza, however.

    No one will be called to question or examine the role psychiatric drugs have played in waaaaay too many of these allegedly inexplicable tragedies.

    That’s a big no-no, and it seems the American people have been too dulled by astroturfing to demand a full accounting.

  • guest

    It could not be any more plain: we prosecute schizophrenics identically to actual criminals in the US court system. God forbid any one of you one day has a serious mental illness, because the overzealous prosecution will treat you as depraved, malicious individuals who know right from wrong, rather than suffering delusions of the mind.

    It is inconceivable to me that a schizophrenic can be held responsible for actions resulting from obvious illness. It’s a lynch mob mentality. We have a backward, vindictive [mob] justice system that insists on prosecuting juveniles as adults, and killing the mentally insane. Can you imagine how this guy would feel about his actions once his schizophrenia is treated with antipsychotic medication? He was a F*@# PhD candidate before mental illness knocked him off the horse.

    It would be like if you woke up from a dream in which you were fighting monsters to find out you had killed your entire family. People like Holmes are victims themselves, not criminals to be prosecuted. Seriously, folks. It’s horrifying.

    • aja

      Thank you for speaking up; you are absolutely right. I hope that through this tragedy more people will pay attention to and help the mentally ill in Colorado and the USA in general.

  • Truman Show

    Horribly one way slanted article. How about using the word “allegedly shot”

    • David Ward

      One of my best friends was murdered by that scum bag. If you saw his widowed wife you wouldn’t say something so stupid to her, because you are a coward. Keep your snide opinion to yourself little boy.

  • bmhay1

    Trials are definitely not about the Truth, look at the “guilty” who walk free and the “innocent” who become imprisoned. The can definitely be a “circus” as were the Jodi Arias and George Zimmerman trials. James Holmes IS guilty, was he mentally ill when he did the deed? I believe he was. It is possible to plot and plan, to go in and out while in the throes of a psychotic episode. It is possible to hold on by only a thread which I believe James Holmes did for a while. James Holmes did not ask to become mentally ill, he was aware he was having problems and he had a good inclination, for a while of what his problems were. He sought help for his problems. The problems don’t wait for us to catch up, they continue on as James’ did until he was out of control. I don’t know if the doctor’s could not help James Holmes, or if he just did not try, but I know the situation he was in was ripe for mental illness to strike and it did. I don’t think James Holmes should ever see the light of day again, after what he did, he took a lot of lives and destroyed many more. But I don’t think he should be put to death either. I believe he should be put in a mental institution and put on medication to help his problem and then he should live out his life as the authorities see fit. I believe James Holmes in time can do good for the world while incarcerated. And this can be his payback. I don’t believe James Holmes knew he was shooting up people in the theatre.