July 25, 2012 Updated January 26, 2013 and March 13, 2013
The Century 16 theater in Aurora CO
The mass murder in Aurora, Colorado was as senseless and as inevitable as any of the mass murders that preceded it. In the United States it is only a matter of time and place when the next gunman with a semi-automatic weapon murders innocent people in cold blood.
Update: Judge William Slyvester declined to grant James Holmes a delay in arraigning him on March 12, 2013 in state court in Centennial, Colorado. Holmes’s public defender, Daniel King, had requested a delay to allow the defense more time to weigh the consequences of his client entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Instead, the judge went forward with the arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty for the 25-year-old Holmes.
Holmes faces numerous felony counts for his alleged assault with semi-automatic weapons at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012 that left 12 people dead and 58 others wounded.
Judge Sylvester said the defense would have the opportunity to change the plea before the trial begins. The judge set the trial date at August 5, 2013. Prosecutors estimate that the trial will last about a month.
In the event Holmes does enter an insanity plea, he would be sent to a state hospital for mental evaluation. In court documents, the judge wrote that if Holmes cooperated with state examiners he would be allowed to be examined by doctors of his own choosing, at government expense.
The midnight premiere of the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, had been playing for about 18 minutes to a sold-out house in Theater 9 at the Century 16 movie complex in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012. At 12:38 a.m. a commado figure casually entered through an emergency exit door to the audience’s right and took up his position at the front of the theater. Dressed head-to-toe in combat gear that included a gas mask, helmet, a throat protector, a bullet-proof vest and leggings, a groin protector, black gloves, and a long black coat, the man said, “I am the Joker.” Some in the audience thought the figure in black was part of the premier’s promotion – that it was all just some sort of stunt.
The Dark Knight Rises was the final film in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy that launched with Batman Begins in 2005 and was followed by The Dark Knight in 2008. As USA Today reported on July 23, “Some fans already considered the trilogy cursed because of Heath Ledger’s death by accidental overdose. Ledger, who played The Joker in The Dark Knight, died months before its premiere.”
The erstwhile Joker then hurled a smoke canister into the middle of the 11th row of the theater, striking a woman there. He then fired a single blast from a .12-guage, pump-action Remington shotgun into the ceiling. As the smoke canister fell to the ground, it began spinning and then exploded, spewing gas into the air and causing panic to grip the stunned audience. Another smoke canister was soon released. As people stood in the middle rows to get away from the noxious gases, the man began rapidly spraying the front rows of the theater with bullets fired from an AR-15 assault rifle equipped with a 100-round barrel magazine capable of firing 50 rounds a minute. This caused most of the audience to huddle on the floor, some using their bodies as human shields to protect loved ones. The gunman then walked up the stairs and began firing into the audience in the middle portion of the theater. As the shooter climbed higher into the theater, some of the people in the front rows attempted to exit the theater up the opposite corridor. The gunman responded by unleashing a hail of bullets that prevented them from getting to the exit and that forced them to retreat back down toward the front of the theater. When the semi-automatic rifle jammed after discharging over 70 shells, the gunman began firing a .40 caliber Glock handgun. Finally, silence engulfed the theater.