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Arlene Holmes, the mother of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes, has penned a book revealing her day-to-day thoughts since the 2012 mass killing her son will soon stand trial for.
The book is called When the Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes 2013-2014, and comes as opening statements in her son’s death penalty case are scheduled for April 27. She pleads for her son’s life in the self-published book, arguing that people with severe mental illness should not be eligible for the death penalty. Much of the book is taken from her handwritten daily prayer journals she began writing in January 2013.
“People think he is a monster, but he has a disease that changed his brain,” she wrote in a March 22, 2013 entry.
In the forward, she said she will donate proceeds from the book to medical and mental health services.
“This book is being published to raise awareness of the immorality of the death penalty,” she wrote. “Severely mentally ill people need treatment, not execution.”
James Holmes plead not guilty by reason of insanity to the mass shooting, which killed 12 people and injured 70 in a July 20, 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo.
In a January 12, 2013 entry called “Preliminary Hearing Memories,” Arlene Holmes wrote, “What were you thinking, Jim? And what are you thinking now? Praying for Jim in jail; please don’t commit suicide. You lived so that we could understand you and others could study you and learn to prevent future tragedy.”
Several days earlier, she expressed anguish over the victims and their families, writing on Jan. 8, 2013, “I can never forgive myself for not knowing that this would happen.”
She also wrote about her church group beginning to pray as soon as news came in that her son was involved in the shooting and revealed she has kept her son’s room untouched.
“I sit on his bed and stare at the walls,” she wrote in 2013. “How can the kid who read about the Berenstain Bears and Jon Stewart’s Earth and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, how could he change? How can the brain change that drastically.”
The book, released March 9, is available on Amazon.com.
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