Accused Movie Theater Shooter Appears In Court
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. We begin this hour with the first court appearance of the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 at a Colorado movie theater. Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes seemed dazed and said nothing throughout this morning's proceeding. What was most noticeable was his disheveled hair, a bright reddish-orange color.
NPR's Jeff Brady was in the courtroom in Arapahoe County and he has our story.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: James Holmes was brought into the courtroom where at least eight uniformed officers were posted. His mop of curly hair, colored reddish-orange, became the focus of reporters and the family members of some of the victims. Some of them stared at Holmes throughout the hearing but he did not return their gaze.
SIEGEL: Holmes wore a maroon jumpsuit and looked pale. He didn't appear to show much interest in what was happening, though he did rise when the judge entered the room.
(SOUNDBITE OF COURT PROCEEDING)
JUDGE WILLIAM SYLVESTER: Call People versus James Holmes 12-CR-1522. Appearances, please.
BRADY: This hearing is called an advisement, an opportunity for Judge William Sylvester to advise Holmes of the charges against him.
(SOUNDBITE OF COURT PROCEEDINGS)
SYLVESTER: The duty judge made a preliminary determination of probable cause to believe you've committed the offense of First Degree Murder which is a class one felony under Colorado law.
BRADY: Holmes sat quietly, his hands in his lap, and for most of the hearing he appeared to be looking at the floor. The judge told Holmes he's being held without bond, that he has a right to a jury trial, and a preliminary hearing.
(SOUNDBITE OF COURT PROCEEDINGS)
SYLVESTER: Mr. Holmes, do you have any questions about that initial advisement?
DANIEL KING: Judge, we've advised Mr. Holmes...
BRADY: The hearing lasted less than 15 minutes, after which Holmes was taken back to the jail. Outside the courtroom, Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers was asked if this was a slam-dunk case.
CAROL CHAMBERS: We're still looking at the enormous amount of evidence and we would never presume that it would be slam-dunk. We will work very hard on this case.
BRADY: Chambers says a decision on whether to pursue the death penalty will have to be made within 60 days of the arraignment. She says prosecutors will consult with family members of the victims.
CHAMBERS: That's a very long process that impacts their lives for years and so they will to have and we will want to give their input before we make any kind of a decision on that.
BRADY: Among the family members of the victims at the courthouse today was David Sanchez. He says he's most focused on caring for his daughter, who was not injured, and her husband.
DAVID SANCHEZ: We turned all the TVs off in the hospital because we really didn't need to deal with that part of it.
BRADY: Sanchez says his 23-year-old son-in-law, Caleb Medley, was shot in the head. Sanchez says he hopes he'll pull through.
SANCHEZ: Just need to pray for everybody that's out there and that's hurt and for a recovery. That's the biggest thing. Like I said, that justice takes its place for this man that has done this to all these people.
BRADY: The family of suspect James Holmes issued a statement this afternoon, aimed at clarifying earlier reports that made it seem like Holmes' mother was not surprised by the shooting. She says a reporter who called her early in the morning misunderstood what she said. The family spoke through their attorney, Lisa Damiani, in San Diego after the hearing.
LISA DAMIANI: Again, the family wants to reiterate that their hearts go out to the victims and their families. The Holmes family would like to maintain their privacy.
BRADY: Damiani wouldn't say where the Holmes family is staying. With such a high profile case, she's concerned for their safety.
DAMIANI: Through my personal experience in dealing with those cases in the past, that's what causes concern.
BRADY: As this case slowly moves through the justice system, many of the details that attorneys learn will be kept secret. A spokeswoman with the Arapahoe County District Attorney's office says the case has been sealed. By next Monday, formal charges will be filed and then James Holmes will be back in court for a preliminary hearing and then a formal arraignment. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Centennial, Colorado. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.