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Theater massacre suspect James Eagan Holmes appears in Colorado courtroom

James Eagan Holmes appeared in court for the first time Monday to hear a judge explain why he was being held without bond. NBC News' Mike Taibbi reports.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET: James Eagan Holmes appeared in court for the first time Monday after he was arrested last week in the deaths of 12 people in a mass shooting at a sold-out movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

M. Alex Johnson is a reporter for NBC News. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester ordered Holmes, 24, held without bond, saying there was probable cause to continue the case. He told Holmes he was accused of having killed 12 people and wounded 58 others early Friday in a crowded theater that was showing the premiere of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Twenty-one people remained in area hospitals Monday, 10 of them in critical condition. Two were released.


Sylvester set a hearing on formal charges — expected to be multiple counts of first-degree murder — for next Monday at 9:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. ET). Holmes — wearing a red prison jump suit and accompanied by Tamara Brady, one of his public defenders — said nothing during the hearing. He mostly looked down at the table under a shock of dyed bright red hair and occasionally raised his eyebrows in a quizzical expression.

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office via KUSA-TV

James Eagan Holmes in his police booking photo.

Relatives of some of the victims leaned forward to catch their first glimpse of Holmes. Some stared at him the entire hearing, including Tom Teves, the father of Alex Teves, who was killed in the shooting. Two women held hands tightly, one shaking her head.

Afterward, Holmes was led away in handcuffs to his cell, where he is being held in isolation, said Carol Chambers, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe County.

Parents stand behind son
Holmes' father, Robert Holmes of Rancho Penasquitos, Calif., flew to Colorado to see James Holmes the day after the shootings. Monday, an attorney for Robert Holmes and his wife, Arlene, said that "their hearts go out to the victims and their families" and that they stood behind their son.

The attorney, Lisa Damiani, a prominent criminal and employment law specialist in San Diego, sought to clear up what she said were misconceptions that Arlene Holmes had said her son was the gunman.

Lisa Damiani, an attorney for James Eagan Holmes' parents, tells reporters, "I have concerns for their safety." Watch the entire news conference.

ABC News reported Friday that when it called Arlene Holmes on Friday morning, "she told ABC News her son was likely the alleged culprit, saying, 'You have the right person.'" Many news organizations, including NBC News, referred to ABC's report.

In a statement read by Damiani, Arlene Holmes said the ABC reporter called her at 5:45 a.m. and asked whether she was Arlene Holmes and whether she had a son who lived in Aurora, Colo.

"I answered yes, you have the right person," Holmes said, according to the statement. "I was referring to myself."

Holmes said that she explicitly told the ABC reporter that she couldn't comment "because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son, and I would need to find out."

Damiani reminded reporters that "it's important that a case of this significance be tried in the courthouse, in the courtroom, and not in the media."

Otherwise, Damiani said, the family has no plans to talk about James Holmes or their relationship.

Families of victims and some of the survivors of Friday's mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., arrived in the courtroom to see suspect James Eagan Holmes, who did not make eye contact with anyone. NBC's Kate Snow reports.

No 'slam dunk'
The next step in the proceedings comes in a week, when Holmes will be back in court to hear the formal charges against him. After that, the case could wind on for months or even years.

Families of victims and some survivors arrived in court to see suspect James Eagan Holmes, who didn't make eye contact with anyone. NBC News' Kate Snow reports.

Asked about the seemingly overwhelming evidence that investigators had amassed against Holmes, Chambers cautioned that "there is no such thing as a slam-dunk case."

"We will work very hard on this case just as we would on any other case," she told reporters after the hearing.

"A case like this involves so many different aspects — (prosecutors will) be working with the police, dealing with things such as search warrants, locations, is there enough evidence to proceed," James Peters, a former Arapahoe County prosecutor, told NBC station KUSA of Denver. Peters won the conviction of a man who killed killed four people at an Aurora restaurant in 1993.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said it could take months simply to determine a motive. He said police were working with FBI behavioral analysts.

Then the state must decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Chambers wouldn't say whether prosecutors intended to pursue that option. A capital case would "impact the victims' families for years, and we would want to get their input on that," she said.

Chambers is term-limited, which means that decision could be made by Chambers' successor, Republican George Brauchler or Democrat Ethan Feldman, one of whom voters will elect in November.

Holmes' defense strategy could delay a resolution even longer. If Holmes were to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, or if his attorneys were to argue that he is incompetent to stand trial, proceedings could stretch for years — perhaps indefinitely.

A defendant is considered incompetent if he's unable to understand the charges against him or to assist in his own defense. Legal proceedings must stop until the defendant is restored to competency.

Scott H. Robinson, a prominent Denver criminal defense attorney, said Holmes' lawyers might have no choice.

If they believe their client is incompetent, they have "an absolute duty to raise competency and [request] a competency evaluation," he said.

Six-year-old girl, sailor, aspiring broadcaster among Colorado shooting victims

Suspect's apartment combed
Holmes told police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, and it took more than 24 hours for them to disarm the explosives he had left behind. They included dozens of softball-sized fireworks charges filled with explosive powder, all of them wired in a circle. In the middle were two jars with a liquid and a small device with a flashing red light.

With technicians now able to move freely about the unit, the investigation has picked up speed.

Shocked Aurora vows, 'We will not forget' victims of theater shooting rampage

Aurora police, assisted by technical experts from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were poring over the physical and documentary evidence. Meanwhile, investigators continued to interview associates of Holmes and at least 80 people who have called in tips.

After having initially warned police about the trap in his apartment, Holmes stopped cooperating and was offering no help, police said.

Chris Hansen, Kate Snow and Mike Taibbi of NBC News and Raquel Villanueva of NBC station KUSA of Denver contributed to this report.

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