Alleged Colo. movie theater shooter James Holmes appears dazed at hearing

(CBS News) AURORA, Colo. - We got our first good look on Monday at the man accused of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the a movie theater massacre in Aurora,Colo.

It was a strange and jarring picture. Twenty four-year-old James Holmes made his first court appearance, but from the looks of him, it wasn't entirely clear he knew he was there. Sitting next to his attorneys, his orange hair made him look like a comic book character. As Chief Judge William Sylvester spoke to Holmes, he didn't make eye contact. He didn't seem to follow the conversation at all.

It was hard to take your eyes off this Holmes. You wanted to keep looking to see if there was some clue as to why he murdered 12 people and injured 58 others when he allegedly fired shots aimlessly into the audience during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

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But, Holmes seemed almost uninterested, and when he was offered one chance to speak he turned it down.

After the judge asked Holmes if he had any questions about his advisement during his first public hearing on Monday, his attorney, Daniel King, replied, "Judge, we have advised Mr. Holmes thoroughly and wave any formal or further advisement."

The hearing's purpose was to inform Holmes of the charges he will soon face.

"You've committed the offense of first-degree murder, a class one felony," Sylvester said during the court session.

(Watch CBS Radio News chief legal analyst Andrew Cohen report on whether James Holmes can use the insanity defense on the left.)

The prosecutor will file those charges by next Monday, and the public defender is expected to file a motion for a mental health evaluation, which is routine in these cases.

"You shall refrain from contacting, directly or indirectly communicating with the victims," Sylvester added.

Holmes is being kept in solitary confinement. Prosecutors said they do not know if he is on medication, which might explain why he looked dazed, at times almost dozing off during the 12-minute hearing. Holmes did not seem to make any eye contact with anyone in the room.

At least five relatives of victims came to the court to see the proceedings. Among them was Ian Sullivan, the father of six-year-old Veronica Moser Sullivan, the youngest victim. Also at the hearing were Tom and Caron Teves. Their son, Alex, was among the dead.

In a case like this, the investigation doesn't stop. It will continue up through trial and so as we find more information we want to make sure we've got the right charges," district attorney Carol Chambers told reporters outside the court.

Colorado is a sate with the death penalty. Chambers said it is considered in this case, but she will first discuss that with the victims and their families. When asked if the prosecutors had the power to go against the victims' and their families' opinions, Chambers said that the prosecutors were not bound to follow their wishes.

"It will ultimately be the decision of the prosecutors on the case," Chambers stated.

This is the beginning of what will be a very long process. There is another hearing July 30, and it is expected that a trial would probably not begin until sometime next year.

  • Barry Petersen

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