The preliminary hearing in the case of James Eagan Holmes came to an end on Wednesday after two days of testimony describing the nightmarish scene at an Aurora, Colo. theater, in which a dozen midsummer moviegoers were killed and 58 injured in a mass shooting allegedly carried out by James Eagan Holmes, a 24-year-old grad school dropout.
Defense attorneys chose not to call any witnesses or make a statement to the court after prosecutors wrapped up their presentation in the Arapahoe County courtroom. Daniel King, who led the defense team, cited a limited ability to present evidence or witnesses who could speak about Holmes’ mental state. He did not offer any closing arguments.
With the preliminary hearing over, Judge William Sylvester will decide Friday if the case will go to trial; if so Holmes could be arraigned that day. If there is an arraignment, a news camera will be allowed inside the courtroom, giving the public the first view of the accused killer since just after the shooting, in which Holmes allegedly sprayed bullets at moviegoers during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
The court proceedings ended after two days of testimony in which police described the scene once they arrived at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colo. Responding officers said that Holmes surrendered without incident once they found him in the cineplex. He was armed with a semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, as well as 6,295 rounds of ammunition.
Prosecutors argued that if the AR-15 rifle that Holmes was found carrying had not jammed, he would have slain many more victims. “He certainly had the ammo,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson. The court was also shown pictures that Holmes had taken of himself posing with weaponry, and told that police believed he had cased the theater for weeks before the shooting.
Earlier in the hearing, an FBI bomb expert described an elaborate system of booby traps in Holmes’ nearby apartment — including homemade napalm and other flammables and explosives — which were rigged to be triggered by anyone entering the apartment, causing a distraction that would occupy police and divert their attention from the violence at the movie theater.
Although they did not present any argument, defense attorneys have said that Holmes is mentally ill and will likely use an insanity defense if the case goes to trial, which could be used to stave off a death sentence if Holmes is convicted of the 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and various other crimes he is charged with. Prosecutors have not clarified yet whether they will seek the death penalty.