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The Latest: Courthouse quickly empties after Day 1 of Colorado theatre shooting trial

04/27/2015 11:41 EDT | Updated 07/31/2015 10:59 EDT
5:55 p.m. MDT

The Arapahoe County Justice Center in suburban Denver has emptied quickly after opening statements in the Colorado theatre shooting trial.

Victims and survivors left the same way they entered Monday morning — walking briskly with some holding hands.

Reporters filed stories about the day's proceedings under overcast skies on a gloomy evening, with temperatures in the mid-40s.

The trial for James Holmes continues Tuesday morning.

Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more at a packed Aurora theatre in 2012. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

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5:25 p.m. MDT

Court has adjourned for the day in the Colorado theatre shooting trial after James Holmes' attorneys completed their opening statement.

Public defender Katherine Spengler ended by telling jurors that Holmes' reason for opening fire in the suburban Denver theatre in 2012 might not be satisfying to them.

"The 'why' is coming from James Holmes' mind," she said. "He is sick"

Spengler noted her client continued to talk to his school psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, even as he amassed weapons and ammunition in the weeks leading up to the shooting.

"He wants to be stopped but can't be stopped," Spengler said, referring to what she said was Holmes' delusional belief that killing others would somehow help him.

The trial will resume Tuesday morning.

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5:05 p.m. MDT

An attorney for the man who opened fire in a crowded Colorado movie theatre says James Holmes experienced a break with reality months before the shooting, soon after he turned 24.

Defence lawyer Katherine Spengler says Holmes' psychotic break in early 2012 could have been caused by problems with his girlfriend and stress from the social interaction required of his graduate school classes.

But Spengler says it also could have happened because that was the time, determined by Holmes' genes, for his disease to worsen. Holmes' attorneys say he has schizophrenia.

Holmes was enrolled in the selective Ph.D. neuroscience program at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus.

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4:45 p.m. MDT

An attorney for the Colorado theatre shooter has cited a history of mental illness on both sides of James Holmes' family, including an aunt with schizophrenic affective disorder.

Daniel King said during opening statements Monday that Holmes was a normal child through elementary school but began to have mental health problems in middle school. He says Holmes attempted suicide at age 11.

King adds his client had "intrusive thoughts" in high school, and they continue to this day.

Holmes' attorney Katherine Spengler says Holmes' mental illness "revved up" in his 20s. She says he wanted to study neuroscience to find a fix for what was wrong with his brain.

The 27-year-old Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 mass shooting.

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4:35 p.m. MDT

James Holmes' defence attorney, Daniel King, says his client "now regrets what took place in the theatre."

"There's no rational explanation for what took place," King said Monday.

In his opening statements, King described strange behaviour by Holmes in a jail cell in November 2012, nearly four months after the mass shooting in Aurora.

King showed video of Holmes running head-first into a wall. He says Holmes thought President Barack Obama was communicating with him through TV, through winks and gestures.

On Nov. 11, 2012, King said, Holmes stood and fell backward in his cell, as if he were expecting to be caught.

"When asked why he fell backward off his bed, he looked at the deputy and said, 'I do not know if you are real," King said.

King said the next day, Holmes was found naked, licking walls, eating lunch meat between two paper cups. He sucked his thumb and cried.

King told the jury: "Look at the video, and you tell me if he would do this for notoriety."

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4:30 p.m. MDT

Senate President Bill Cadman has cited Colorado theatre shooter James Holmes during a discussion at the state capitol about a bill that would create a new crime of fetal homicide.

The measure was proposed in response to an attack on a pregnant woman last month in Longmont. But Cadman says it also could be applied in the suburban Denver mass shooting.

James Holmes is charged with killing 12 people in the 2012 Aurora attack. Cadman argues it should have been 13, because a woman who survived the rampage had a miscarriage.

The Republican Senate approved the bill Monday.

Democrats oppose the measure, saying the crime of fetal homicide could put pregnant women themselves at risk for charges.

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4:20 p.m. MDT

A defence attorney has showed jurors a video of James Holmes shortly after his arrest in a deadly 2012 rampage at a Colorado movie theatre.

Investigators put paper bags on Holmes' hands to preserve evidence.

On the video, Holmes can be seen and heard playing with the bags. An officer asks Holmes what he thinks the bags are for, and Holmes replies "popcorn."

King says Holmes' bizarre behaviour continued in jail, where he heard voices and believed others could read his thoughts. King disputed prosecutors' claim that Holmes stopped eating and drinking, and that's what made him delusional.

King noted Holmes has been medicated for two years and still believes his delusions.

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4 p.m. MDT

During opening statements of the Colorado theatre shooting trial, James Holmes' attorney showed home videos of his client as a boy and told jurors that Holmes was a "good kid who tried hard."

The videos showed Holmes surfing and playing on a slide.

Public defender Daniel King pointed to Holmes' parents in the courtroom, Arlene and Robert Holmes, saying they were a solid middle-class couple.

"He was what we want all our children to be like," said King, noting Holmes could be "anyone's son" and that anyone's son could have schizophrenia.

District Attorney George Brauchler objected, but he was overruled by the judge.

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3:45 p.m. MDT

An attorney for Colorado theatre shooter James Holmes says every doctor who has evaluated his client has found he suffers from a serious psychotic illness, and isn't faking it.

Public defender Daniel King said during opening statements that all the psychiatrists who have examined Holmes have diagnosed him with schizophrenia or schizophrenic spectrum disorder.

King told jurors their job is not to decide whether mass murder is wrong, how badly the victims were harmed or anything having to do with gun control.

"There is no room for retribution or vengeance," he said. "The law commands that you decide one thing and one thing only: that you fairly and rationally decide all the evidence in the case or lack of evidence, and that you decide whether (District Attorney George) Broauchler has ... proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Holmes was not insane."

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3:35 p.m. MDT

A public defender says James Holmes was insane when he opened fire in a crowded Colorado movie theatre in 2012.

Public defender Daniel King said during his opening statement in Holmes' trial that his client was having a psychotic break and was not in control of his thoughts, his actions or "what he perceived as reality" at the time of the attack.

"By the time Mr. Holmes stepped into that theatre, his perception of reality was so skewed, was so malformed, that he no longer lived in the world that we lived in," King said. "But to him, it seemed as real as it seems to you right now.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the mass shooting in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

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3:25 p.m. MDT

Multiple people sobbed during opening statements in the Colorado theatre shooting trial.

A juror wiped tears from her face as District Attorney George Brauchler showed photographs of the victims' bodies, as well a photograph of 6-year-old Veronica Moser before the shooting.

Brauchler said he would show a photo of Moser's body later in the trial, but didn't show it during opening statements. He said they should only have to look at that photo once.

Holmes watched the screen with the photographs but showed no visible reaction.

There was a box of tissues at the feet of Holmes' parents but they didn't use them during the opening statements. Defence attorneys were beginning their opening statement.

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3 p.m. MDT

The prosecutor in the Colorado theatre shooting trial showed jurors photographs of the victims before wrapping up his opening statement.

District Attorney George Brauchler described how one moviegoer draped himself over his friend, trying to protect him, and how another was nearly eviscerated by bullets.

Brauchler says the gunman, James Holmes, wore headphones and listened to techno music so as not to hear the reaction in the theatre.

In the courtroom Monday, Holmes swiveled in chair ever so slightly as the prosecutor chronicled the individual killings.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 attack.

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2:45 p.m. MDT

District Attorney George Brauchler showed jurors photographs of the elaborate booby trap that Colorado theatre shooter James Holmes set up in his apartment.

He says Holmes used "detonation redundancy" to try to ensure its success and tactics to cause as much harm as possible.

Gasoline was put in green containers so it looked like a clear liquid.

Brauchler says Holmes planned to use magnesium to start fires that would spew out lethal hydrogen gas and be made worse by water sprayed on them.

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2:40 p.m. MDT

A prosecutor says James Holmes' decision to dye his bright hair red before opening fire in a Colorado movie theatre had nothing to do with wanting to look like the Joker from Batman.

District Attorney George Brauchler says Holmes told an expert who examined him that he changed his hair colour and wore contacts that made his pupils look black so he would stand out and be remembered.

"I thought it would look better than green or blue," Holmes said, according to the prosecutor.

Also during his opening statements, Brauchler showed jurors an FBI model of the theatre. The roughly 4-foot by 6-foot model was on a table in the courtroom and had been covered with a black cloth.

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2:15 p.m. MDT

A prosecutor says James Holmes considered other locations and methods for his attack, including biological warfare, before deciding on a mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theatre.

District Attorney George Brauchler says Holmes ruled out a biological assault because it would require too much knowledge.

He also considered various locations, including airports and other theatres. He concluded an airport would have too much security.

Brauchler says Holmes picked Century 16 in Aurora in part because it had doors he could lock to increase casualties. He also considered factors such as police response times.

Brauchler noted before the shooting, Holmes was reluctant to give details about his thoughts to therapists he worked with. But Holmes freely talked about his desire to kill people with his ex-girlfriend, whom he continued to spend time with after their breakup.

The prosecutor said the ex-girlfriend thought Holmes was being hypothetical, and the two severed ties soon afterward.

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2 p.m. MDT

The prosecutor in the Colorado movie theatre shooting trial says the experts who examined the gunman couldn't agree on what mental disorder he has.

District Attorney George Brauchler also says James Holmes, a former graduate student in neuroscience, gave them conflicting answers about his motives.

Brauchler noted during opening arguments that Holmes told one state expert he decided to carry out the shooting in a movie theatre because of the possibility of mass casualties. But Brauchler says Holmes told a defence expert he chose the setting because he liked the movies.

When asked about the discrepancy, Holmes allegedly responded "Things change with time" and offered no other explanation.

Openings statements started Monday with prosecutors laying out their case. Each side is allowed two hours.

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1:50 p.m. MDT

The prosecutor in the Colorado movie theatre shooting trial says for four months after his arrest, James Holmes was on no medication and seemed sane.

District Attorney George Brauchler told jurors during opening statements Monday that Holmes complained about the jail food and asked for specific books and contact-lens cleaning fluid.

"He is, in essence, like every other inmate," Brauchler said.

But the prosecutor says as the holidays neared, Holmes stopped eating and drinking, sending himself into a delirium.

Brauchler says jurors will see a video of Holmes climbing onto the bed in his cell around that time and "sort of falling off," and they'll have to decide what it means.

He says they'll also see a notebook Holmes kept that was intended to be given to his family after the shooting. It includes pages Holmes wrote on his longstanding hatred of mankind, as well as his plans for the massacre.

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1:30 p.m. MDT

The prosecutor in the Colorado movie theatre shooting trial has played a video recording of one of James Holmes' psychiatric evaluations in which Holmes says he "only counts fatalities" in the attack and those wounded were "collateral damage."

District Attorney George Brauchler says Holmes felt differently about the people he killed and those he injured in the 2012 shooting in suburban Denver.

"The dead can't be repaired or come back to life and be normal again," Holmes said.

The wounded, meanwhile, are "collateral damage," he said.

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1:25 p.m. MDT

The prosecutor in the Colorado movie theatre shooting trial says two mental health evaluations found that James Holmes sane at the time of the attack.

It is the first word on the results of the evaluations from different psychiatrists.

"Both of them said the same thing: that that guy was sane when he tried to murder all those people in the theatre back in July of 2012," District Attorney George Brauchler said.

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1:15 p.m. MDT

Opening statements have started in the long-awaited death penalty trial of Colorado movie theatre shooter James Holmes.

The prosecutor showed a picture of the door to the theatre. "Through this door are bullets, blood, brains and bodies," he said. He played a 911 call.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. says each side has two hours for opening statements. The defence can make opening statement now or later.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 when he opened fire at a midnight showing of a Batman movie in suburban Denver. The July 20, 2012, mass shooting was one of America's deadliest.

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12:55 p.m. MDT

The judge in the Colorado theatre shooting trial has dismissed jurors for a short break before opening statements begin.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. has explained to jurors the importance of not discussing the trial with anyone, including each other. Opening statements are set to start after the break.

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12:45 p.m. MDT

The judge in the Colorado theatre shooting trial is explaining to the jury that they must decide whether or not James Holmes was sane at the time of the attack.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. explained to the 12 jurors, plus 12 alternates, the guidelines of an insanity plea. Samour says the defendant is presumed innocent and does not have to prove he was insane when the shooting occurred.

Instead, he says, the prosecution must prove that Holmes was not insane.

Holmes is sitting still and watching the judge. He has not appeared to react to what he says or talk to his attorneys.

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12:20 p.m. MDT

The judge in the Colorado theatre shooting trial has started instructing the jury.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. on Monday told jurors he has no opinion on the case and told them they can submit questions to him regarding witness testimony during the trial.

Samour also says jurors can take notes but they're not allowed to take those notes home. He says the jurors' notebooks will be destroyed at the end of the trial.

James Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more in a packed Aurora theatre in July 2012, but he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers will argue he was too addled by mental illness to tell right from wrong.

Opening statements are set to begin later Monday.

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noon MDT

A judge has started addressing jurors in the Colorado theatre shooting trial.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. thanked jurors for being on time and told them he's taken steps to ensure their privacy. He says he has ordered the media not to identify jurors or contact them or their friends or family members.

Samour earlier seated 12 jurors, plus 12 alternates who will replace any jurors who are dismissed for health or other reasons.

The 24 people will not know if they are jurors or alternates until deliberations are about to begin. At that point, the remaining alternates will be dismissed

Opening statements in James Holmes' death penalty trial are set for later Monday.

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11:30 a.m. MDT

Some victims' family members and survivors of the Colorado theatre shooting have arrived at court in advance of opening statements in James Holmes' trial.

They held hands as they took the elevator up to the courtroom in the Denver suburb of Centennial.

The group included Ian Sullivan, whose 6-year-old daughter, Veronica, was the youngest victim of the 2012 massacre, and Caleb Medley, who was shot in the head while on a date night at the Batman screening with his pregnant wife.

Medley's wife gave birth to their baby in the same hospital where Medley was treated. The boy is his first child.

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11 a.m. MDT

Many of the people who attended a morning hearing in the trial of Colorado theatre shooter James Holmes have dispersed while court is in recess, including Holmes' parents.

The hearing at the Arapahoe County courthouse in suburban Denver was held to clear up last-minute requests from attorneys.

Opening statements in the death penalty trial are expected to start around 1 p.m. local time.

Meanwhile, work on other cases continued as usual Monday at the courthouse in Centennial. Court dockets show at least 100 other cases scheduled for the day.

Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more inside the packed theatre, but he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

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10:30 a.m. MDT

Opening statements in the Colorado shooting trial will be given by District Attorney George Brauchler for the prosecution, and public defenders Daniel King and Katherine Spengler for the defence.

Brauchler said at the morning briefing that he'll show graphic images during his presentation. He didn't elaborate.

The trial is taking place in the Denver suburb of Centennial, where it was chilly and drizzling Monday morning.

A row of TV satellite trucks sat outside the courthouse. A half-dozen TV camera crews and more photojournalists watched as spectators including former Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo arrived.

Trujillo's daughter, Taylor, was in the theatre on July 20, 2012. She survived the shooting when a friend threw her to the floor.

Trujillo says his faith allows him to forgive. But he says that might be easy to say since his daughter survived.

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9:55 a.m. MDT

Court is in recess in the Colorado theatre shooting case after a hearing to clear up last-minute requests.

James Holmes' parents sat in the second row in the courtroom in the Denver suburb of Centennial. His mother, Arlene, took notes in a small purple notebook and Holmes read at the defence table. No victims' families were at the hearing.

Prosecutors asked for access to records of jail visits by Holmes' parents, experts and other people besides his legal team.

Holmes' lawyers objected, but arguments on that issue were delayed until a later date.

Opening statements are expected to begin around 1 p.m. local time, after the judge addresses jurors.

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9:10 a.m. MDT

A hearing to take care of last-minute motions is underway in the death penalty trial of Colorado theatre shooter James Holmes in suburban Denver.

Holmes is dressed in a blue shirt, khaki pants and no tie. At the start of a live video feed from the courtroom, he is seen standing behind the defence table with his hands in his pocket.

As in previous hearings, Holmes is tethered to the courtroom floor with a harness under his clothes, hidden from the jury's view.

To the right of the judge's bench is a table holding a roughly 4-foot by 6-foot object draped with a black cloth.

Among the evidence expected to be presented during the trial is an FBI model of the theatre and photographs of the scene.

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8:25 a.m. MDT

The parents of Colorado theatre shooter James Holmes have been seen waiting in line to get into the suburban Denver courthouse where Holmes' long-awaited death penalty trial is getting underway.

Robert and Arlene Holmes of Rancho Penasquitos, California, have publicly pleaded for their son's life to be spared through a plea bargain. They called him a "human being gripped by a severe mental illness."

Shortly before their arrival, some TV reporters followed Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, the parents of shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, to the door of the Centennial courthouse, in violation of the strict ground rules for media coverage.

A woman in a suit came up and scolded them.

Opening statements in the 2012 shooting case are scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.

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7:50 a.m. MDT

A steady stream of people walked into the courthouse on a grey and drizzly morning on the opening day of the trial of James Holmes in the 2012 Colorado theatre shooting.

They were dressed in suits and dresses, and jeans and sweatshirts. About 10 television satellite trucks were parked outside.

There were no deputies stationed at the roof as seen at previous hearings in the case at the courthouse in Centennial, south of Denver.

Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more a packed Aurora theatre, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers will argue he was too addled by mental illness to tell right from wrong.