US shooting: Suspect silent, dazed in 1st hearing

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The Dark Knight rises
Centennial (US), Jul 23: A former doctoral student accused of a deadly shooting rampage at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Colorado appeared in court for the first time, but he didn't seem to be there at all.

Unshaven and appearing dazed, James Holmes sat virtually motionless, his brown hair dyed a shocking shade of orange. It was the world's first glimpse of the 24-year-old since Friday's shooting left 12 dead and 58 injured in one of the worst mass shootings in US history. Holmes didn't say a word. Prosecutors said later they didn't know if Holmes was on medication.

Authorities have said he is being held in isolation. His demeanour appeared to anger the relatives of some of the victims who attended the hearing and stared at him the entire time. Holmes, whom police say was clad in body armour and armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and handguns during the attack, was refusing to cooperate in the investigation, authorities said. They said it could take months to learn what prompted the attack.

Holmes is expected to be formally charged next Monday. He is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder and he could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations. Prosecutor Carol Chambers said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty against Holmes. She said a decision will be made in consultation with victims' families.

Relatives of the shooting victims leaned forward in their seats to catch their first glimpse of him. Two women held hands tightly, one shaking her head. David Sanchez, who waited outside the courthouse during the hearing, said his pregnant daughter escaped uninjured but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition.

Asked what punishment Holmes should get if convicted, Sanchez said, "I think death is." His daughter was delivering her baby on Monday.

AP

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