Update: 24 counts of murder Colorado cinema shooter charged
Prosecutors have charged the suspect in the Colorado cinema rampage with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.
James Holmes appeared just as dazed as he did in his first court appearance a week ago, but at one point he exchanged a few words with one of his lawyers.
Some victims and family members again watched him in the packed courtroom, and before the hearing some clasped their hands and bowed their heads as if in prayer.
The July 20 attack at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie left 12 people dead and 58 others injured.
Holmes faces two counts for each victim – murder with deliberation and murder with extreme indifference. Both carry a maximum death penalty upon conviction.
A former chief deputy district attorney said a conviction under extreme indifference means that any life sentences would have to be served consecutively, not concurrently.
Holmes also faces one count of possession of explosives. After his arrest outside the theatre, police said they found his apartment was booby trapped.
Unlike Holmes’ first court appearance, Monday’s hearing was not televised. At the request of the defence, District Chief Judge William Sylvester barred video and still cameras, saying expanded coverage could interfere with Holmes’ right to a fair trial.
The judge also has placed a gag order on lawyers and law enforcement, sealing the court file and barring the University of Colorado Denver from releasing public records relating to Holmes’ year there.
A consortium of media organisations, including The Associated Press, is challenging Sylvester’s sealing of the court file.
Lawyers on Monday also were arguing over a defence motion to find out who leaked information to the media about a package the 24-year-old Holmes allegedly sent to his psychiatrist at the university.
Authorities seized the package July 23 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.
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. An online resume listed schizophrenia as one of her research interests.
Holmes allegedly began stockpiling gear for his assault four months ago, and authorities say he bought his weapons in May and June, well before the midnight shooting spree.
“This is not a whodunit,” said Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver. “The only possible defence is insanity.”
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