Accused Colorado Shooter James Holmes Is Dazed in Court

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Accused Colorado Shooter James Holmes Is Dazed in Court
Accused Colorado Shooter James Holmes Is Dazed in Court (ABC News)

James Holmes, the gunman accused of opening fire at a Colorado movie theater, appeared dazed in court today, seen in public for the first time since he allegedly killed 12 people and wounded another 58 during the showing of the new Batman movie.

Holmes, 24, appeared in court unshaven with a shock of dyed reddish-orange hair, and a prison jumpsuit that appeared to conceal a bulletproof vest.

He said nothing in the courtroom and spent much of the hearing looking down, his head drooping at times. He demeanor ranged from a glassy bug-eye stare to appearing to be nodding off.

Holmes was not arraigned today, but was held without bond on a probable cause order for first degree murder. He is expected to return to court next week, where he will be formally charged and enter a plea.

Holmes is being held in solitary confinement and was brought to the courtroom via an underground tunnel.

Five family members, on behalf of three victims, were in the courtroom today. Each was assigned a victim-advocate, armed with a box of tissues.

Before the hearing started, a female relative of a victim stand up and approach a male relative of another victim -- presumably a total stranger -- and introduce herself. The two then engaged in a long hug.

When Holmes entered the room, they all stared at him intently, some of them craning their necks to do so.

Asked whther Holmes was on medication or drugs at the time of today's hearing, Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters, "We would have no information about that."

Prosecutors are considering pursuing a death penalty case against Holmes. A decision on charging Holmes with capital murder has not yet been made, but Chambers told reporters today she is talking with victims and their family members about it.

"If the death penalty is sought, that's a very long process that impacts [victims' and family members'] for years," she said.

Prosecutors have 60 days from the time of arraignment to decide if they will seek the death penalty.

There are currently only three people on Colorado's death row, and two of them were put there by Chambers and her team. The last execution took place in 1997.

Nevertheless, experts expect prosecutors to seek the death penalty when Holmes is formally charged later this week.

The prosecutor said it will likely be at least a year before Holmes could go on trial.

Today was the first time Holmes has been seen in public since his arrest following a deadly rampage at a midnight screening of the "The Dark Knight Rises" on Friday.

"He has harmed so many people," Police Chief Daniel Oates said. "Not only the victims, but all of their extended families. So I think it will be very hard."

Oates also told ABC News that Holmes' parents have remained silent.

"They're not talking to us right now," he said. "Maybe that will change, but right now they are not talking to us."

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The suspect will be brought to court from his jail cell at Arapahoe County Jail through an underground tunnel.

The court appearance is expected to be brief and will start the clock on the 72-hour deadline for the district attorney to file formal charges at an arraignment where Holmes will enter his plea.

The police chief told ABC News that his team is getting significant help from the FBI's behavioral analysts in trying to figure out what could have changed Holmes from a promising young student to a suspect in one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history.

Authorities found a computer and Batman poster and a Batman mask from the comic books in his apartment, according to sources, ABC News reported.

"I was struck by one source today who said that this 'was really like a mad scientist, really like a villain in a movie,'" Thomas said. "We are being told by sources that they have found the computer, and also a poster of Batman."

ABC News learned this weekend that Holmes apparently applied online for a membership at a local gun range last month. On the application, he apparently said he did not use drugs and was not a convicted felon. When Glenn Rotkovich, who owns the Lead Valley Range in Byers, Colo., called him to follow up, he said, he got a "bizarre," Batman-inspired voicemail message.

He told his staff not to allow Holmes into the club if he showed up for an orientation.

ABC News early Sunday obtained exclusive video and photos of Holmes as a thin teenager in an oversized shirt from a science camp six years ago at Miramar College in San Diego.

"Over the course of the summer, I've been working with a temporal illusion. It's an illusion that allows you to change the past," Holmes said in the video.

By most accounts, Holmes lived the life of a normal teen, with a particular interest in science.

The video shows him being introduced at the seminar as someone whose "goals are to become a researcher and to make scientific discoveries. In personal life, he enjoys playing soccer and strategy games and his dream is to own a Slurpee machine."

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How Holmes went from a student enrolled in a neuroscience graduate program at the University of Colorado to a man amassing more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet prior to the alleged shooting is what investigators are now trying to figure out.

President Obama traveled to Aurora Sunday night and met with the victims for more than two and a half hours.

Obama told assembled media of his mindset when he approaches families who have lost their own.

"I come to them not so much as a president, but as a father and husband," he said. "And I think that the reason these stories have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody we love taken from us. What it would be like."

This was the president's second visit to the state in less than a month to cope with loss. He toured a Colorado Springs neighborhood in late June to console homeowners caught in devastating wildfires. At least two were killed in the blaze, which devoured hundreds of homes.

ABC News' Dan Harris contributed to this report