Return of the Movie Theater Massacre

Holmes in court on Monday (courtesy of CBSLocal Denver)

Although July 20th seems like a distant memory now that 2013 is in full swing, the horror of the Aurora movie theater massacre returned to the public eye as 25-year-old shooter James Holmes began his preliminary hearing on Monday.

Holmes is accused of slaughtering 12 people and injuring dozens of others in a shooting at a late-night premiere of the film “The Dark Knight Rises.” He now faces 166 counts of attempted murder, murder and weapons charges.

In a preliminary hearing, the state tries to prove that it has enough legitimate evidence to go to trial. Since Holmes was arrested outside the theater once the massacre ended and basically confessed to the crime, there is little doubt that a trial will occur.

However, Holmes’ defense team is expected to argue that he suffered from diminished capacitywhich means he was unable to make clear decisions due to some kind of mental issue. Since Holmes was once a psychiatric patient at the University of Colorado, there’s a good chance this strategy will succeed. Either way, though, Holmes will never see the light of day again… unless it’s from a jail cell or a room in some mental institution, that is.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Day one of Holmes’ preliminary hearing included testimony from several police officers who responded to the shooting in Aurora on that fateful night.

A tribute to the survivors (courtesy of FOX-40)

Officer Justin Grizzle fought back tears as he described the gruesome scene inside the theater. Mangled bodies were everywhere, including children. Blood made the floor slippery and difficult to traverse. And cell phones went unanswered as families attempted to reach their loved ones.

Twelve hours after the crime, Detective Matthew Ingui arrived at the scene with investigators. They discovered hundreds of rounds of ammunition and did their best to outline the bodies despite the endless pools of blood and carnage surrounding them.

Some of the most disturbing testimony came from Officer Jason Oviatt, who was the first to encounter Holmes after the shooting. When Oviatt arrived at the back of the theater, he saw Holmes wearing a helmet and gas mask and standing with his hands on top of his car.

“He was just standing there,” Oviatt said in court. “All the other officers were running around, trying to get into the theater.”

Once he realized Holmes was the shooter, Oviatt took him into custody and yesterday reflected on how calm and compliant the murderer was.  He described Holmes as being “relaxed” and “very detached from it all.”

Officer Aaron Blue even testified later that Holmes told him about the explosives rigged in his apartment without being asked. He told Blue that if they went off, it would be because the cops set them off.

The details surrounding the Aurora massacre are grisly and unbelievable, to be sure, but this is only the beginning. One of the worst things about a tragedy like this one, aside from the loss of innocent lives and the irreparable effects on survivors and victims’ families, is that the killer lived. Now in addition to all the heartbreak, people have to experience the horror again in the preliminary hearing and eventually, the trial itself. And this one promises to be a long, drawn-out media frenzy of a hot mess.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this horrible crime. And I sincerely hope they find peace once the tidal wave of news coverage hits later this year. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, dear readers. I know I will.

Posted on January 8, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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