James Holmes, the 24-year-old neuroscience student accused of opening fire in a crowded Aurora, Colorado, theater on July 20th, was charged with a total of 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder, Monday at a hearing in the Denver area.
Holmes was charged with 12 counts of "traditional" first-degree murder and 12 counts of first-degree murder "with extreme indifference," amounting to two murder charges for every person killed during the shooting.
"Murder with extreme indifference" refers to when dangerous or extreme behavior results in the death of a victim. The charge is usually reserved for indiscriminate attacks like the shooting that took place two weeks ago.
During the attack, the shooter entered the Century 16 theater in Aurora and fired multiple rounds at movie goers watching a midnight premier of the Batman franchise's "The Dark Knight Rises."
Holmes, a recent drop out from the University of Colorado's neuroscience graduate program, was arrested without a struggle outside of the theater soon after the shooting. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest, helmet and gas mask. Other than the 12 people killed, 58 others were wounded.
Holmes was charged with an additional 116 counts of attempted murder, two for each of the victims injured in the shooting. He also faces one count of committing a crime of violence and one count of possession of an explosive device.
Those present in the courtroom Monday said Holmes, still sporting the bright red hair some have assumed is a tribute to Batman villain "the Joker," seemed dazed and unemotional as the charges were read.
The lawyers also jockeyed Monday over whether evidence of a notebook Holmes sent to a university psychiatrist could be considered privileged information. The notebook, which has not yet been made public, is said to contain drawings and details made by Holmes on his plans for the shooting.
The notebook and its admittance into evidence could quash any hope on the defenses' side to prove insanity in Holmes' case, which requires his team to show their client didn't know what he was doing was wrong.
In the state of Colorado, one first-degree murder charge results in a minimum sentence of life in prison. But in this case, the defendant will most likely face the death penalty.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com