Published July 30, 2012
A former neuroscience student accused of killing a dozen people and wounding 58 others at an Aurora movie theater was hit with murder and attempted murder charges Monday.
James Holmes was charged with 24 counts of murder, two each for the 12 people killed, and 116 counts of attempted murder, two each for the 58 injured. For the murder charges, one count included murder with deliberation, the other murder with extreme indifference. Both carry a maximum death penalty upon conviction.
A former chief deputy district attorney says a conviction under extreme indifference means that any life sentences would have to be served consecutively, not concurrently.
In addition, the 24-year-old Holmes was charged with one count of possession of explosives and one count of a crime of violence, which is a gun charge. Authorities say Holmes booby trapped his apartment.
Holmes, who was seen looking around the courtroom while his hands were shackled, didn't make a plea or speak.
The courtroom audience contained shooting victims and families of the victims.
After the hearing, MaryEllen Hansen, the aunt of a woman who lost her 6-year-old daughter in the Aurora theater shooting and suffered a miscarriage, said she thought Holmes appeared coherent and alert and that he had a "persona of evilness."
Hansen's niece, Ashley Moser, is expected to be paralyzed as a result of her injuries.
One seasoned former prosecutor predicted an insanity plea Monday morning.
"I don't think it's too hard to predict the path of this proceeding," said Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver, said before the charges were announced. "This is not a whodunit. ... The only possible defense is insanity."
The attorneys also argued over a defense motion to discover the source of leaks to the media that Holmes sent a package containing a chilling notebook to his psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton The court announced hearings for late August to resolve the issue. FoxNews.com was the first to report the existence of the notebook, which authorities seized July 23 after finding it in the mailroom of the medical campus where Holmes studied.
District Court Judge William Blair Sylvester has tried to tightly control the flow of information about Holmes, placing a gag order on lawyers and law enforcement, sealing the court file and barring the university from releasing public records relating to Holmes' year there. A consortium of media organizations, including Fox News, is challenging Sylvester's sealing of the court file.
More details emerged over the weekend on Fenton, who works at the University of Colorado and is the medical director of the school's Student Mental Health Services.
Fenton is also a faculty member at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Denver, according to her Colorado state health professional profile posted online. She received an award last year for her schizophrenia-related research work for the VA.
Her online resume for the University of Colorado listed schizophrenia as one of her research interests and stated that she sees 10 to 15 graduate students a week for medication and psychotherapy, as well as 5 to 10 patients in her general practice as a psychiatrist.
Fenton is also a member of the UCD/AMC's campus-wide Behavioral Environmental Threat Assessment (BETA) team, which "manages and coordinates evaluation and response to students of concern."
On May 30, 2012, Fenton and two graduate students presented a Student Health Case Conference talk called “World of Warcraft: The Use of Archetypes in Psychotherapy” during the university’s psychiatry department’s grand rounds. World of Warcraft was reportedly one of the video games that James Holmes frequently played.
Records show Fenton was disciplined by the Colorado Medical Board in 2004 for prescribing herself Xanax while her mother was dying, state records show. She also was disciplined for prescribing the sleep aid Ambien and the allergy medicine Claritin for her husband, and painkillers for an employee who suffered from chronic headaches.
Holmes allegedly began stockpiling gear for his assault four months ago, and authorities say he bought his weapons in May and June, well before the shooting spree just after midnight during a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises." He was arrested by police outside the theater.
FoxNews.com's Jana Winter and the Associated Press contributed to this report.