James Holmes, Movie Theater Shooting Suspect, Faces Televised Arraignment
The District Attorney will have two months to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
James Holmes, the suspect accused of shooting up an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left 12 people dead and dozens injured, will make his first courtroom appearance this morning as he faces an arraignment.
The hearing will likely be brief but also on television as the judge in the case has reportedly allowed cameras in the courtroom. Holmes will be read his rights. No plea is expected to be entered.
The 24-year-old suspect faces dozens of charges, including first-degree murder if prosecutors believe there's evidence of premeditation. The district attorney's office run by Carol Chambers has 72 hours from the hearing to file formal charges.
Colorado is a state that allows the death penalty in circumstances where there's “aggravating factors” such as instances where a defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death for multiple individuals or when crimes are deemed to be especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or depraved.
The D.A. has discretion on whether to seek that penalty or merely life in prison without parole. Under state law, prosecutors have 60 days from arraignment to inform the judge whether the death penalty will be sought. Although Colorado allows the death penalty, only one individual has been sentenced to death in the state since the 1960s.
Holmes, formerly a University of Colorado, Denver graduate student in neuroscience, was taken into custody after the first 911 call at 12:39 a.m. on Friday. He doesn't have a criminal history. He currently is being held at Arapahoe Detention Center, reportedly in solitary confinement under suicide watch. If prosecutors bring first-degree murder charges, as expected, Holmes won't have any possibility for bail, say legal observers.
The hearing might also present the first look at the lawyers representing Holmes who haven't yet been identified.