Ten days after allegedly shooting 12 people to death and wounding 58 others in a crowded Colorado movie theater, James Holmes, 24, was formally charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder Monday, July 30, as well as one charge of using a crime enhancer and one of possessing an explosive device. Prosecutors must now begin to build a case that could result in his execution; defense lawyers may possibly try to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.
Holmes’ public defense lawyers filed a document on Friday, July 27, showing that he had been seeing a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado just prior to the July 20 shooting. They insisted that conversation between him and the doctor is legally protected information and requested that a package that includes communication sent to the psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, be handed over to the defense. Prosecutors wanted Arapahoe County Judge William Sylvester to reject the request, saying that the media reports about what was in the package, including possible diagrams of shooting plans, may have been fabricated. According to Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers, the package “hadn’t been opened” at the time the news reports appeared. Attorneys were expected to argue the criteria during a hearing that was to take place in conjunction with Holmes’ court appearance, but that hearing was postponed.
During the Monday hearing, Holmes spoke only when he was asked if he wanted to waive his right to a preliminary hearing within 35 days, responding, “Yes.” Sylvester set the preliminary hearing date for Nov. 12. The next court hearing in the case is set for Aug. 9, which will address requests by the media to open the case file. The media were not allowed in the courtroom on Monday and instead waited in a holding area.
Meanwhile, a woman whose 6-year-old daughter was killed in the shooting suffered a miscarriage on Saturday. Ashley Moser’s family said in a statement that the trauma of the shooting and the subsequent surgery caused her to lose her baby. However, prosecutors did not charge Holmes with the death of the unborn baby because homicide charges in Colorado apply only to those “who had been born and alive,” defense attorney and former prosecutor Karen Steinhauser told the Associated Press.