New York: James Holmes, the man who staged the Colorado shooting massacre during midnight screening of ‘the Dark Knight Rises’ was “very very relaxed” and “detached from things”, police officers who arrested him, testified in the hearing.
A hearing that would last a week ensued on Monday allowing the Colorado victims’ families to shed the burden of testifying and providing more details about the seemingly detached gunman James Holmes who barged into a theatre at Colorado, Aurora on July 20’s midnight and opened fire before hurling smoke-bombs killing 12 and injuring 58.
On the first day of a hearing that will determine whether there`s enough evidence to put Holmes on trial, the testimony brought back the raw emotions from the fateful day of July 20.
The hearing is the first extensive public disclosure of the evidence against Holmes. Other information has come out, including details about how he legally bought his guns in person and purchased thousands of bullets and body armor online as well as a notebook that he sent to a psychiatrist he had seen.
A district judge forbade attorneys and investigators from discussing the case publicly, and many court documents have been under seal.
It took this long to get to the preliminary hearing because lawyers have been debating what physical evidence should be made available to one side or the other, whether the psychiatrist who met with Holmes is barred from testifying by doctor-patient privilege and who was responsible for media leaks.
It wasn`t immediately clear whether the doctor would testify this week.
On Monday, prosecutors called on the first responders to testify about the shooting at the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in Aurora. Holmes had bought his ticket almost two weeks in advance. Investigators say Holmes, wearing body armor, tossed two gas canisters into the packed theater and then opened fire.
When officers arrived, they saw people running out of the theater and trying to drive away. Others walked. Some of the wounded tried to crawl out.
Officers found Holmes standing next to his car. At first, Officer Jason Oviatt said, he thought Holmes was a policeman because of how he was dressed but then realized he was just standing there and not rushing toward the theater.
Oviatt pointed his gun at him, handcuffed him and searched him. He said he found two knives and a semi-automatic handgun on top of Holmes` car. An ammunition clip fell out of his pocket and Oviatt found another on the ground. He said Holmes was dripping in sweat and his pupils were wide open.
Oviatt said Holmes seemed "very, very relaxed" and didn`t seem to have "normal emotional reactions" to things. "He seemed very detached," he said.
Holmes volunteered that his apartment had been booby trapped, the officers said.
At one point, Grizzle asked Holmes if anyone had been helping him or working with him. "He just looked at me and smiled ... like a smirk," Grizzle recalled.
Officer Aaron Blue said Holmes was fidgeting around after he and Oviatt put him in a patrol car, prompting them to stop and search Holmes again. They were worried they might have missed something because of Holmes` bulky outfit.
Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard recalled not finding a pulse on the youngest victim, 6-year-old, Veronica Moser-Sullivan. In talking about not finding a pulse on her, Jonsgaard had to stop talking because he was about to break down in tears.
Two pathologists testified that the victims who died were shot anywhere from one to nine times. Matthew McQuinn, 27, who dived in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets, was shot nine times.
Holmes, now 25, is charged with more than 160 counts, including murder and attempted murder. The hearing will allow the judge to determine whether the prosecution`s case is strong enough to warrant a trial, but it`s rare for a judge not to order a trial if a case gets this far.
James Holmes opened fire during the midnight showing of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, killing 12 people and wounding dozens. He was donning orange coloured hair, just like the Joker - the villain of the movie being screened.
With Agency Inputs