Holmes took self-portraits before theater shooting


Associated Press

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 9 at 1:31 PM

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP) — The hearing to determine whether the suspected gunman in last year's Colorado theater shooting ended Wednesday with one last detail from police: James Holmes used a cell phone to take self-portraits the night of the attack, sticking out his tongue, smiling and posing with a Glock pistol

The defense decided not to call witnesses to talk about Holmes' mental health. They are expected to present an insanity defense.

Police also showed the court photos of the theater they say Holmes took a month before the attack, which left 12 dead and at least 58 injured in one of the country's worst mass shootings.

The judge said he will rule by Friday on whether Holmes should stand trial. If the judge decides he should be tried, Holmes could enter a plea that day. Cases rarely advance to this stage without a judge agreeing to set a trial.

Prosecutors this week have argued that Holmes acted with deliberation and extreme indifference.

Defense attorneys decided not call any witnesses, saying the rules of the hearing severely limited what evidence they could present. They had been granted permission to call two people to talk about Holmes' mental state.

His lawyers have previously stated that Holmes, 25, is mentally ill. Defense lawyer Tamara Brady pointedly asked a federal agent in court Tuesday whether any Colorado law prevented "a severely mentally ill person" from buying the 6,295 rounds of ammunition, body armor and handcuffs that Holmes purchased online.

The hearing was dominated by prosecutors' details of Holmes' preparations. Police and authorities said he spent months amassing tear gas grenades, two Glock handguns, a shotgun and an AR-15 rifle, along with the 6,295 rounds of ammunition, targets, body armor and chemicals. He also purchased chemicals including improvised napalm, as well as thermite, a substance which burns so hot that water can't extinguish the blaze.

Holmes' purchases were for two planned attacks, prosecutors said — the theater shooting and his apartment, which would have blown up if anyone had entered. The traps weren't triggered.

Holmes, clad from head to toe in body armor, was found standing by his car outside the theater. He told investigators that the apartment was an effort to pull police away from the theater. He didn't expect to see officers so quickly.

Police said he volunteered information about the apartment traps. Authorities went to the apartment and carefully dismantled them.

If Holmes is found sane, goes to trial and is convicted, his attorneys can try to avoid a possible death penalty by arguing he is mentally ill. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they will seek the death penalty.

If he's found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would likely be sent to the state mental hospital, not prison. Such a defendant is deemed not guilty because he didn't know right from wrong and is therefore "absolved" of the crime, said former Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey.


Associated Press writers Dan Elliott, Thomas Peipert, Nicholas Riccardi and Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.