Murmurs of disappointment greeted Judge William Sylvester's decision today (Friday) to delay the arraignment hearing for alleged mass murderer James Holmes in the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting which occurred July 20, 2012. The Denver Post newspaper has devoted an entire section to the shooting.
The massacre has received national media attention including a series of articles by Time Magazine.
Instead of occurring Friday as originally scheduled, the arraignment will be held March 12.
The father of one of the victims of the theater slaughter even yelled out, "Rot in hell!"
His cry of anguish was directed at defendant Holmes who reportedly infuriated many family members of the victims this week by smirking while evidence was presented during the preliminary hearing which ended Wednesday.
Judge Sylvester ruled Thursday evening that there was sufficient evidence for the prosecution to proceed to trial against Holmes, who is possibly most unpopular man in Colorado today.
Newly-elected District Attorney George Brauchler said today that there are a variety of pleas Holmes can make in March at his arraignment to the capital murder and attempted capital murder charges. Brauchler was elected to his position in November and was not sworn in until this week.
Defense attorney Daniel Kay said today he needed more time to review 30,000 pages of evidence and hundreds of DVDs and CDs before he allows his client to enter a plea to the charges in one of the worst mass murders in American history.
Judge Sylvester expressed concern the case might be reversed if he didn't grant Kay's request for the delay.
It's been a heart-wrenching week for families of the 12 murder victims and approximately 60 shooting victims who heard tragic evidence this week as to how their loved ones were gunned down shortly after settling in to watch "The Dark Knight Rises" Batman movie.
The Aurora Police Department was deluged that night with more than 40 emergency calls from victims inside the Cinema 16 theater in the suburb outside Denver.
Law enforcement officials heard 30 gunshot booms during one 27-second 911 call from inside the theater as the slaughter occurred.
Steve Hernandez, father of murder victim Rebecca Wingo, 32, was the member of the audience who screamed at Holmes inside the courtroom advising him as to where he should go.
While there had been speculation this week among observers that the defense would present evidence of either an insanity defense or some sort of diminished mental capacity defense, defense attorney Kay said today he'd changed his mind on that subject.
He said he thought it would be better to wait until the jury trial to present evidence of that sort. In fact, he declined to present any evidence this week at the preliminary hearing.
This is not an uncommon strategy for defense attorneys as they frequently like to conceal their strategy from the prosecution as long as possible. This gives district attorneys less time to prepare a response.
The death penalty is available in Colorado in cases such as this. District Attorney Brauchler has not yet publicly committed to whether or not his office will seek the ultimate penalty in this case.
District Attorneys will normally confer with the families of victims in capital murder cases to receive their input before deciding on whether to pursue the death penalty.
Holmes could enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. If he did so, he would undergo lengthy evaluations at a mental hospital before trial.
He faces 166 felony counts.
While approximately 40 victims who survived the massacre along with family members of those who did not survive packed the Colorado courtroom today, the stepfather of one of the victims was in Washington D.C.
Vice-President Joe Biden met with the stepfather as part of a push for gun control by the President Barack Obama.
The Aurora case will no doubt be a centerpiece of the White House strategy to limit access of guns to dangerous people.
While the mass murder will most intimately affect family members of the victims, it will affect every American as a backdrop to the continuing national debate over gun control.
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