Photo: AP Images
Mass murder suspect James Holmes turned his apartment into a death trap before allegedly killing a dozen people in a crowded movie theatre, prosecutors asserted this week during a preliminary hearing.During that hearing, police officers recounted the truly horrifying scene they encountered at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo.
While such emotional details were being released to an already enraged public, lawyers for the 25-year-old murder suspect hardly made a peep.
Daniel King, a public defender representing Holmes, asked only two rather curious questions during the first two days of Holmes’ preliminary hearing.
“The most significant moment in the preliminary hearing may have also been its most oddly out of place,” The Denver Post’s John Ingold wrote after Monday’s hearing.
When prosecutors called two doctors from the Arapahoe County coroner’s office to testify Monday, Holmes’ attorneys didn’t question the first doctor and asked only one potentially revealing question of the other.
King asked Arapahoe County Coroner Michael Dobersen whether the 12 shooting victims’ injuries revealed anything about the shooter’s state of mind.
“You’re not drawing any conclusions about the mental state of the perpetrators by your autopsy, are you?” King asked, according to Ingold.
Dobersen, who seemed confused by the question, said he wasn’t making any judgements about the shooter’s state of mind.
Similarly, one of the only questions King asked during Tuesday’s hearing also focused on mental illness.
During Tuesday’s hearing, ATF agent Steven Beggs testified about the small arsenal Holmes accumulated in the months leading up to the shooting.
Instead of asking questions about how the ATF could prove Holmes actually made the purchases or some other inquiry that could have cast doubt on his client’s motive, King again focused on Holmes’ mental illness.
“Is there any process in place to screen out whether a severely mentally ill person is purchasing these items?” King asked Beggs, according to Ingold.
Beggs reportedly said there wasn’t any such screen in place.
The defence attorneys presented no arguments during the final day of the preliminary hearing.
While the defence initially planned to call witnesses who could discuss Holmes’ mental state, it apparently changed its mind.
“Absent a complete waiver of privilege, our ability to present such evidence would be limited,” King said, according to Ingold.
King’s questions indicate that Holmes’ attorneys will pursue an insanity defence, which as we’ve reported earlier, just might work.
Colorado requires the prosecution to prove the defendant’s sanity in order to disprove an insanity claim. In most states, it’s the other way around and the defence has to prove their client is insane.
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