James Holmes Smiled and Smirked at Menacing Self-Portraits in Court, Victims Say
(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- After two days of apparent indifference, accused Aurora shooter James Holmes smiled and smirked at disturbing self-portraits and images of weapons shown in court Wednesday, according to the families of victims who watched him.
"When he sees himself, he gets very excited and his eyes crinkle," Caren Teves said outside of the courthouse, after the hearing. "Your eyes are the window to the soul and you could see that he was very delighted in seeing himself in that manner."
Teves' son Alex Teves, 24, died in the shooting.
Prosecutors showed photos that Holmes took of himself hours before he allegedly carried out a massacre at a Colorado movie theater. He took a series of menacing self-portraits with his dyed orange hair curling out of from under a black skull cap and his eyes covered with black contacts. In some of the photos, guns were visible.
Those haunting photographs, found on his iPhone, were shown in court Wednesday on the last day of a preliminary testimony that will lead to a decision on whether the case will go to trial. The hearing concluded without Holmes' defense calling any witnesses.
The judge's decision on whether the case will proceed to trial is expected on Friday.
Holmes, 25, is accused of opening fire on a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and wounding dozens others during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
The courtroom's setup kept members of the media from being able to see Holmes' face as the photos were displayed, but victims and their families could watch him.
Teves said that Holmes was "absolutely smirking" when images of his weapons and the iPhone photos he took of himself were shown in court.
"I watched him intently," Caren Teves' husband Tom Teves said. "I watched him smile every time a weapon was discussed, every time they talked about his apartment and how he had it set up [with booby traps], and he could have gave a darn about the people, to be quite frank. But he's not crazy one bit. He's very, very cold. He's very, very calculated."
Holmes has exhibited bizarre behavior after the shooting and while in custody. His defense team has said that he is mentally ill, but have not said if he will plead insanity.
"He has a brain set that no one here can understand and we want to call him crazy because we want to make that feel better in our society, but we have to accept the fact that there are evil people in our society that enjoy killing any type of living thing," a frustrated Tom Teves said. "That doesn't make them crazy. And don't pretend he's crazy. He's not crazy."
The photos presented in court showed Holmes mugging for his iPhone camera just hours before the shooting. Half-a-dozen photos showed Holmes with his clownish red-orange hair and black contact lenses, giving the photos a particularly disturbing edge.
Before the prosecution called for the photos, public defender Tammy Brady objected. Prosecutor Karen Pearson said that the photos showed deliberation and extreme indifference. Judge William Sylvester overruled the objection and the photos were released.
In Pearson's closing statement, she said there is an abundance of direct evidence that Holmes "wanted to kill all of them. He knew what he was doing."
She said that Holmes had a "depravity of human heart" and that he "went into the theater without knowing or caring who they are." The prosecutor said he "picked the perfect venue for the perfect crime."
Pearson said prosecutors made a decision not to include all of the people who were in theaters eight and nine that night. If they had, they could have had 1,500 counts against Holmes. Instead, they included anyone who had physical injuries, including those with gunshot wounds and those who were hurt running out of the theater. There are 166 counts in all.
The judge has taken the case under advisement and there will be a status hearing or arraignment on Friday, when the judge will decide whether the case will proceed to a full trial. Holmes' attorneys have not yet said whether they plan on using an insanity defense, in which case Holmes could possibly be deemed unfit to stand trial. Another possibility is that the hearing could set the stage for a plea deal.
This week's testimony has included emotional testimony from first responders, details about Holmes' elaborately booby-trapped apartment, a rundown of his arsenal of legally purchased weapons and descriptions of his bizarre behavior following the shooting.
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