James Holmes was formally charged with murder in his second court appearance in Centennial, Colorado on Monday, in connection with the July 20 movie theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 wounded in a mall in the town of Aurora.
Holmes, 24, was charged with 12 counts of first-degree murder, and 12 counts of first-degree murder “evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” He was also charged with 116 counts of attempted murder – one for each person present when he sprang into the movie theater, dressed in a gas mask and battle gear, and sprayed those seated with gunfire. The charges were broken down into 58 counts of attempted first-degree murder, and 58 counts of “universal malice” charges related to attempted murder.
The charges reflect the intention of Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers to prove that Holmes had planned out the murders, that they were premeditated and were not the result of an impulsive, last-minute idea. Until last month, he was studying for a doctoral degree in neuroscience at a nearby university, but dropped out after struggling with his studies.
Attorneys for the defense, including public defenders Daniel King and Tamara Brady, argued in court for the release of a notebook Holmes had sent to his psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, but that she had never received, prior to the murders. The notebook allegedly contained drawings and descriptions of plans for killing people, but instead of arriving at Fenton's desk in the university where Holmes had been attending classes, it remained stuck in the institution's mail system, undelivered. It was only after Fenton received a package not intended for her, after the murders, that the notebook was discovered and turned over to police.
In the weeks leading up to the carnage, Holmes legally purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition, two semiautomatic firearms, a semiautomatic assault rifle, and a shotgun. He had also purchased the gas mask and battle armor that he wore into the theater when he began his assault by hurling a gas canister into the auditorium and opening fire on people who had come to a mall in Auror to see a midnight premiere of the new "Batman" movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Before leaving his apartment, he had booby-trapped the place with explosives and a trip wire designed to kill anyone who dared to enter. Police spent most of the day disarming the home and dismantling bombs before finally declaring the apartment safe.
The suspect waived his right to a preliminary hearing with 35 days, and showed no reaction when he was advised by Judge William Sylvester that he could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of the charges.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent condolences to Colorado’s “Batman” terror victims after what some have referred to as a 'real terror attack.'
“We well understand the pain and loss that you are experiencing," he said. "I send my condolences and those of the Israeli people to the families of the Americans who were murdered in Aurora, Colorado, and my wishes for a full and rapid recovery to those who were wounded,” he said in his message.
The Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado set up a fund to aid the victims and families affected by the shooting. “As Jews, we are guided by the principle of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. And that’s not just the Jewish world. We are obligated to help in every way we can,” said the federation’s CEO, Doug Seserman, in a statement.