Colorado massacre suspect to appear in court on July 23

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Jul. 23, 2012 09:09
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Anne Marie Hochhalter, 30, second from right, and her friend Roxy Chesser, 30, right, attend a prayer vigil, held to remember the lost and injured in Friday's mass shooting at a movie theater, in a park outside the Aurora Municipal Center in Aurora, Colo., Sunday July 22, 2012. Hochhalter, a paralyzed victim of the Columbine High School tragedy over 12 years ago, and other survivors of the 1999 massacre reached out to people who survived the theater shooting. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured in a shooting attack 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.
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AURORA, Colo. - The man accused of killing a dozen people in a Colorado movie theater makes his first appearance in court on Monday, July 23.

Police say James Eagan Holmes, 24, was dressed in body armor and toting three guns when he opened fire at a packed midnight screening of the new Batman movie early Friday. Fifty-eight people were injured in the shooting.

Holmes was apprehended moments after the massacre. Police say they are still searching for a motive for the crime.

Holmes will appear before Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester at 9:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. EDT/1530 GMT) for a hearing that is expected to be brief. He will be represented by a public defender.

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers will decide whether to seek the death penalty for Holmes. She has prosecuted two of the three inmates on Colorado's death row. Chambers may not announce her plan at the hearing.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama traveled to Aurora, a Denver suburb of 325,000, to offer comfort to families of the victims. He told them their loved ones would be remembered long after the justice system was done with the killer.

The dead included war veterans, an aspiring sportscaster who had barely escaped a shooting in a Toronto mall earlier this summer, and a 6-year-old girl.

The crime meets all the elements of Colorado capital case law, including premeditation, multiple victims, and the killing a child, among others, said former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman.

"If James Holmes isn't executed, Colorado may as well throw away its death penalty law," he said.

Many in Aurora have vowed to deny Holmes the publicity they believe he craves by not uttering his name.

"I refuse to say his name. In my house we're just going to call him Suspect A," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told a memorial on the steps of the municipal center in the Denver suburb on Sunday night. He captured a spirit of defiance voiced by citizens as well as religious and political leaders.

Obama met with families in the University of Colorado Hospital, and in a televised address afterward he also did not mention the suspect's name. He focused on the bravery of a young woman, Stephanie Davies, who saved her friend Allie Young by putting pressure on a gushing neck wound with one hand and calling for help on her cellphone with the other.

"They assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come," Obama said.

Holmes and his motives remained largely a mystery, with past associates saying he displayed no hints of a mental illness or violent tendencies.

He was armed with a Smith & Wesson M&P .223 semi-automatic rifle, similar to an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock .40-caliber handgun. Police found an additional Glock .40-caliber handgun in his car. All the weapons had been bought legally.

He is in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners. Holmes had recently dropped out of a doctoral degree program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical School, a few blocks from his apartment.


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