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Denver Shooting Suspect James Holmes In Court
The suspected gunman in the Colorado cinema massacre has appeared in court for the first time.
PhD student James Holmes, 24, did not speak during the 10 minute hearing, and appeared dazed, occasionally closing his eyes.
He wore a maroon prison jumpsuit and had his hair dyed bright orange and was shackled at the wrists and ankles.
Relatives of the shooting victims sat yards away, leaning forward in their seats to catch a first glimpse of the alleged shooter, with some staring at him throughout the hearing.
Two women held hands tightly, one shaking her head.
David Sanchez, who waited outside the courthouse during the hearing, said his pregnant daughter escaped uninjured but her husband was shot in the head and was in critical condition.
Asked what punishment is appropriate if Holmes is eventually convicted, Sanchez said, "I think death is."
Holmes had refused to co-operate with law enforcement officers ahead of the hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Centre, police sources say.
He was represented by a public defender during the brief appearance before Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester.
The suspect was held in solitary confinement for his own safety ahead of the appearance relating to Friday's shootings, which left 12 dead and 58 wounded, some critically.
After the hearing a Colorado prosecutor said that a decision on whether to pursue the death penalty would be "months down the line".
Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers said a decision will be made in consultation with victims' families.
She confirmed that prosecutors would reveal what charges Holmes will face at a hearing set for July 30 at 9.30am - but said it would likely be at least a year before he stands trial.
The crime meets all the elements of Colorado capital case law, including premeditation, multiple victims and the killing of a child, former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman told the AP news agency.
"If James Holmes isn't executed, Colorado may as well throw away its death penalty law," he said.
Later, an attorney representing the family of James Holmes said his mother's initial comment on the morning of the shooting has been misconstrued.
Reading a statement she attributed to Arlene Holmes, San Diego-based attorney Lisa Damiani said Arlene Holmes' comment "You have the right person" to an ABC reporter referred to herself, not James Holmes as some media have suggested.
Arlene Holmes made the comment when the reporter phoned her early Friday morning and asked if she was Arlene Holmes and if James Holmes was her son, Damiani said.
The lawyer said her comment has been misconstrued to suggest she was not surprised by her son's alleged involvement in the shooting.
At a press conference outside her office, Damiani said the Holmes family is choosing not to discuss James Holmes or his relationship with the family.
Police are hoping a computer inside Holmes' booby-trapped apartment could provide details of how the attack at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie was planned and carried out.
It has also emerged that Holmes applied to join a private gun club a few weeks before the shooting but was not approved.
As with Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik, it would appear that he wanted to be caught and put on trial. Holmes was wearing protective body armour and did not resist arrest.
Police in New York have said Holmes referred to himself as "The Joker" - Batman's arch nemesis in the comic books and the films - on the evening of the attack.
On Sunday, thousands of people gathered in Aurora to remember the victims and survivors of the gun massacre.
Although many were grieving the loss of close friends and family members, there was a strong sense of community spirit.
Police officers were cheered, and the loudest applause of the service was when the Colorado governor John Hickenlooper referred to the gunman but told the crowd: "I refuse to say his name."
As each of the 12 victims' names was read out, those present said "we will remember" in unison.
The vigil took place less than an hour after President Barack Obama had flown in aboard Air Force One to individually meet bereaved families.
"I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband," he said and described the shooting incident as an "evil act".