Looking dazed and with bright orange hair, the man accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 in a shooting rampage in a Colorado theatre appeared Monday in court for the first time.
James Holmes, wide-eyed and unshaven, appeared not to speak during the brief hearing. He will be formally charged next Monday.
Authorities say the 24-year-old former graduate student is refusing to co-operate, and it could take months to learn what prompted one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
A prosecutor said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty. Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers said a decision will be made in consultation with victims’ families.
Holmes has been held in solitary confinement since the shooting.
Holmes began buying guns nearly two months before the shooting and recently bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
The semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack, forcing the gunman to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That malfunction and weapons switch might have saved some lives.
Holmes’ apartment was filled with trip wires, explosive devices and unknown liquids, requiring police, FBI officials and bomb squad technicians to evacuate surrounding buildings while spending most of Saturday disabling the booby traps.
Officials at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether Holmes, a former doctoral student in neuroscience, used his position in a graduate program to collect hazardous materials.
Holmes’ reasons for quitting the doctoral program in June remained a mystery. He recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The family’s pastor recalled a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically. “He wasn’t an extrovert at all. If there was any conversation, it would be because I initiated it, not because he did,” said Jerald Borgie, who last spoke with Holmes about six years ago.
Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora. Several thousand people attended a prayer vigil, and President Barack Obama visited with families of the victims. Obama said he told the families that “all of America and much of the world is thinking about them.”