Judge to decide if Aurora Movie Theater Shooter James Holmes will stand trial, hearing details revealed
The preliminary hearing in the case of James Eagan Holmes came to an end on Wednesday after two days of testimony describing the nightmarish scene at an Aurora, Colorado theater, in which a dozen midsummer moviegoers were killed and 58 injured.
Pictures allegedly Holmes took of himself on his iPhone hours before the massacre are “creepy” and reveal his “depravity of human heart,” according to prosecutor Karen Pearson.
Six unsettling images including the shooter wearing black contact lenses and tactical gear, sticking out his tongue and brandishing firearms, were shown during the last day of the suspect’s preliminary hearing.
According to the mother of one of the 12 people Holmes allegedly murdered, Caren Teeves, when the images were shown in court, Holmes was “absolutely smirking.”
“When he sees himself, he gets very excited and his eyes crinkle,” she said outside the courthouse. “You could see that he was very delighted.”
Defense attorneys chose not to call any witnesses or make a statement to the court after prosecutors wrapped up their presentation in the Arapahoe County courtroom.
Daniel King, who led the defense team, cited a limited ability to present evidence or witnesses who could speak about Holmes’ mental state.
He did not offer any closing arguments.
Judge William Sylvester will decide Friday if the case will go to trial; if so Holmes could be arraigned that day. If there is an arraignment, a news camera will be allowed inside the courtroom, giving the public the first view of the accused killer since just after the shooting.
Responding officers said that Holmes surrendered without incident once they found him in the cineplex. He was armed with a semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, as well as 6,295 rounds of ammunition.
Prosecutors argued that if the AR-15 rifle that Holmes was found carrying had not jammed, he would have slain many more victims. “He certainly had the ammo,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson.
Earlier in the hearing, an FBI bomb expert described an elaborate system of booby traps in Holmes’ nearby apartment — including homemade napalm and other flammables and explosives — which were rigged to be triggered by anyone entering the apartment, causing a distraction that would occupy police and divert their attention from the violence at the movie theater.
Although they did not present any argument, defense attorneys have said that Holmes is mentally ill and will likely use an insanity defense if the case goes to trial, which could be used to stave off a death sentence if Holmes is convicted of the 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and various other crimes he is charged with. Prosecutors have not clarified yet whether they will seek the death penalty.