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World gets first look at Colorado movie theater massacre suspect

Man charged in Colorado mass shooting sports dyed hair, looks vacant in first court appearance.



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David Sanchez, who waited outside the courthouse during the hearing, said his pregnant daughter escaped without injury but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition. His daughter was scheduled to deliver her baby on Monday.

"When it’s your own daughter and she escaped death by mere seconds, I want to say it makes you angry," Sanchez said. He said his daughter, 21-year-old Katie Medley, and her husband, Caleb, 23, had been waiting for a year to watch the movie.

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Prosecutor says trial will be long process

A Colorado district attorney says it will likely be at least a year before the suspect in a movie theater attack stands trial.

District attorney Carol Chambers says it will be months before a decision is made on the death penalty for James Holmes, who will be charged Monday.

Holmes’ eyes drooped and he blinked rapidly Monday in his first court appearance, at times opening his eyes widely.

Chambers says she has no information on whether Holmes is on medication.

Lawyer says suspect family stands by son

The lawyer for family members of the Colorado theater shooting suspect says they support him.

When asked if James Holmes’ family stands by him, Lisa Damiani told reporters Monday in San Diego: “Yes they do. He’s their son.”

She says the family’s hearts go out to the victims and their families.

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Asked what punishment is appropriate if Holmes is convicted, Sanchez said, "I think death is."

Chambers’ office is responsible for the convictions of two of the three people on Colorado’s death row.

Chambers also is the only state district attorney to seek the death penalty in a case in the last five years, said Michael Radelet, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who tracks death penalty cases.

Yet Colorado uses the death penalty relatively sparingly. There has only been one execution since it was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976. The state legislature fell one vote short of abolishing the death penalty in 2009.

At a news conference in San Diego, where Holmes’ family lives, their lawyer, Lisa Damiani, refused to answer questions about him and his relationship to the family. She said later: "Everyone’s concerned" about the possibility of the death penalty.

When asked if they stood by Holmes, Damiani said, "Yes they do. He’s their son."

Holmes is expected to be formally charged next Monday. He is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations. Holmes has been assigned a public defender.

Weeks before, Holmes quit a 35-student Ph.D. program in neuroscience for reasons that aren’t clear. He had earlier taken an intense oral exam that marks the end of the first year but University of Colorado Denver officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.


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At a news conference, university officials refused to answer questions about Holmes. "To the best of our knowledge at this point, we think we did everything that we should have done," Donald Elliman, the university chancellor.

The judge has issued an order barring lawyers in the case from publicly commenting on matters including evidence, whether a plea deal is in the works or results of any examination or test performed on someone.

Some of the victims’ families, who had traveled to Colorado to attend the hearing, planned to return home to plan funerals. Chambers said her office would keep them informed through various methods, including the news media, while following the judge’s order.

"At this point everyone is interested in a fair trial with a just outcome for everybody involved," she said.

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Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt and Thomas Peipert in Aurora; Dan Elliott and Colleen Slevin in Denver and Alex Katz in New York contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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