(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — Prosecutors on Tuesday are expected to present witness testimony from FBI and ATF agents regarding accused Aurora gunman James Holmes’ booby trapped apartment and the disarming of explosives.
It will be the second day of Holmes’ preliminary hearing. The hearing is essentially a mini-trial as prosecutors present witness testimony and evidence to outline their case against the former neuroscience student.
Holmes, 25, is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 when he allegedly opened fire in a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 in Aurora, Colo.
The hearing at the Arapahoe County District Court could last all week. Judge William Sylvester will decide whether the case will go to trial. Holmes’ attorneys have not yet said whether they plan on using an insanity defense, in which case Holmes could possibly be deemed unfit to stand trial. Another possibility is that the hearing could set the stage for a plea deal.
If the case does not go to trial, this week’s preliminary hearing could be the only opportunity for public testimony and release of information in a case where gag orders and sealed documents have kept much of the evidence and information away from the public.
Testimony on Tuesday is expected to center around FBI and ATF agents who were sent to Holmes’ apartment after the shooting.
Aurora police officer Aaron Blue testified on Monday that when police found Holmes outside the theater after the shooting, he volunteered that he had four guns and that there were “improvised explosive devices” in his apartment. He told officers that they would go off if the police triggered them. Authorities eventually conducted a controlled detonation at his apartment and used a robot driven by a bomb technician to methodically disable explosive devices.
“It was an extremely dangerous environment. If [someone] had walked in that door, they would have sustained significant injuries or lost their life,” Jim Yacone of the FBI told ABC News at the time.
The first day of the hearing was filled with emotionally-charged testimony from first responding police officers and the revelation that Holmes bought his movie ticket 12 days before the shooting.
An officer who took the stand also described Holmes as “relaxed” and “detached” when police confronted him just moments after the shooting stopped.
Holmes has been charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder, possession of explosives and crime of violence. The district attorney has not decided whether to seek the death penalty, and Holmes’ defense team believes Holmes is mentally ill. He has not entered a plea.
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