Preliminary hearings on the legal fate of accused Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes wrapped today, after the revelation of disturbing images from Holmes's cell phone. The defense chose not to call any witnesses yet.
By withholding their case at this juncture, the defense let prosecutors end the hearing on an upsetting note. This morning they presented photos Holmes took of himself at about 6:30 p.m. on the night of the shooting, as he brandished the weapons he allegedly used to kill 12 people gathered to watch a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at Aurora's Century 16 theater. In one of these disturbing self-takes, Holmes's eyes are blackened out by dark contact lenses. In another, he's smiling. One shot even has him sticking his tongue out. Because this is a closed-door hearing, the general public can't see these photos. But court sketch artist Bill Robles drew a quick take on one of the shots, as tweeted by CNN's Jim Spellman.
Other photos retrieved from Holmes's phone show his personal arsenal and interiors of the movie theater a few days before the attack — all evidence of Holmes' "identity, deliberation and extreme indifference," according to the prosecution.
Since the case hasn't gone to trial yet (this hearing was only held to determine whether a trial is called for), the defense chose not to play its full hand. Holmes's attorneys said this wasn't the time or venue for them to examine witnesses, so we didn't get to hear from the two they subpoenaed to testify about Holmes's mental health. They "had a change of position" about calling these witnesses to the stand. Now we wait until Friday, when Judge William Sylvester will have to determine whether the case goes to trial or not.