This photo combination shows a variety of facial expressions of James E. Holmes during his appearance at Arapahoe County District Court Monday, July 23, 2012, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 in a shooting rampage in a movie theater on Friday, July 20 in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)
Updated: November 30, 2012 10:15AM
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — His hair dyed a shocking comic-book shade of orange-red, James Holmes showed up in court for the first time, but didn’t seem to be there at all.
The world’s first look at the man accused of killing 12 moviegoers and injuring 58 others in a shooting rampage at a packed midnight screening of the new Batman film was that of a sleepy, seemingly inattentive suspect.
Holmes shuffled into court Monday in a maroon jailhouse jumpsuit with his hands cuffed. Unshaven and appearing dazed, Holmes sat virtually motionless, his eyes drooping as the judge advised him of the severity of the case. At one point, Holmes simply closed his eyes.
He never said a word.
Prosecutors said they didn’t know if he was being medicated.
The court appearance gave millions the chance to scrutinize Holmes’ every movement, every flutter of his heavy eyelids and form their opinions.
“It struck me that this is a person who’s been through an emotional maelstrom and therefore might be totally wiped out emotionally,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Gardere said there could be “a psychotic process going on and we see that being acted out there. Or there might be some sort of malingering going on. In other words, trying to make himself look worse than he actually is. Or maybe a combination of all of those things.”
The hearing was the first confirmation that Holmes’ hair was colored. On Friday, there were reports of his hair being red and that he told arresting officers that he was “The Joker.” Batman’s nemesis in the fictional Gotham has brightly colored hair.
Holmes, who is being held in isolation, is refusing to cooperate, authorities said. They said it could take months to identify a motive.
On Monday, security was tight as uniformed sheriff’s deputies were stationed outside, including on the roofs of both court buildings.
Holmes’ entrance into the courtroom was barely noticeable. Holmes sat down in a jury box, next to one of his attorneys. When the judge asked him if he understood his rights, his attorneys did all the talking.
Prosecutor Carol Chambers said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty, but that a decision will be made in consultation with the victims’ families.
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.