The man accused of shooting into a packed movie theater made his first court appearance Monday, giving the public its first look at the 24-year-old former doctoral candidate since his arrest moments after the gunfire ended early Friday.
James E. Holmes, his hair dyed various shades of orange, looked down, then straight ahead. He sat without blinking for long periods. At times, his eyes fluttered, then squeezed tight and reopened in a blank stare. Occasionally, his eyebrows arched over several days of stubble, giving his face a mournful mien.
But the dazed-looking man, who identified himself to police as "The Joker," wore a maroon jumpsuit over a white T-shirt and gave little indication that he was paying attention to the courtroom procedure that ensured he will continue to be held without bond.
He was then led from the courtroom and back to the Arapahoe County Jail, where he is being held in isolation. Formal charges are expected to be filed on July 30.
Asked whether Holmes was on medication, Arapaho County Undersheriff David C. Walcher said, "Even if I did know, I couldn't tell you."
Inside the courtroom, victims and their relatives watched the proceeding. McKayla Hicks was among them. She was seated in the movie theater next door to the one where the killings occurred when a bullet struck her chin. Though she has largely recovered, she said Monday's court appearance was not easy to observe.
"Once he walked into the room, it just made everything a lot harder," she told CNN.
"He just looks like a pathetic freak," she said. "I just want him put away forever."
Jordan Ghawi, whose sister Jessica was among the 12 fatalities, was not in the courtroom.
"This guy's already had his 10 minutes of fame and I don't need to see the face of the man who's taken my sister's life," he said. "I was afraid that I may try to get my hands on that man."
He described Holmes as a coward and a genius. "I don't believe for a second that he's sitting there with his wide eyes and pretending to be incoherent," Ghawi said. "He knows what he's doing."
"The charges on which the court found cause included first-degree murder," Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters outside the courthouse. She said prosecutors have a lot of work to do.
"I would say there's no such thing as a slam-dunk case," she said. "We're still looking at the enormous amount of evidence."
Deciding whether to pursue the death penalty is a long process that involves input from victims and their relatives, she said.
A capital case would require a finding of either extreme indifference or deliberation, she said.
Holmes is being held in connection with the shootings that also left 58 wounded, and the subsequent discovery of his booby-trapped apartment, which authorities think he rigged before leaving for the Century Aurora 16 multiplex.
Authorities have been tight-lipped about a possible motive in the case, and police spokesman Frank Fania told CNN late Sunday that Holmes has been uncooperative with investigators and requested an attorney.
Arapahoe County public defender James O'Connor has been assigned to the case. The Colorado Judicial Department declined to say whether Holmes requested a public defender. A telephone call by CNN to O'Connor's office was not returned.
At the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus, administrators told reporters that Holmes took his preliminary examinations on June 7 and initiated his withdrawal from the program three days later.
"It's very unusual, very unusual for a student to withdraw from our program," Dean Barry Shur told reporters.
Entrance to the program is highly competitive: It generally has 10 applicants for each of the five or six slots that open in any given year, Shur said.
Those who are accepted typically have undergraduate grade-point averages of more than 3.6 and Graduate Record Examination scores exceeding 1,200, he said.
Though all applicants undergo background checks, Shur said he was aware of no program that requires that applicants undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Holmes did not divulge his reason for leaving the program. "That area of the form was left blank," Shur said.
Shur described scientists as "quirky" people.