Colorado inmate Steven Unruh is having a hard time convincing anyone that he spent hours talking to Aurora theater shootings suspect James Holmes shortly after his arrest last July. Jail officials say there’s no way that Unruh could have had that kind of access. Yet certain elements of the story — which includes a description that resembles the headbanging routine that sent Holmes to the hospital last week — have been attracting attention from law enforcement and even families of the shooting victims.
“They’re going to try to discredit my story,” Unruh told Westword in a recent interview at the jail. “But I was able to have a four-hour talk with him. I talked him out of suicide.”
Unruh insists the sporadic conversation continued even after Holmes was moved to another cell in the area. He says that Holmes told him “he felt like he was in a video game” during the shooting, that “he wasn’t on his meds” and “nobody would help him.” He says Holmes also mentioned NLP — presumably, neuro-linguistic programming, a much-scorned and outmoded approach to psychotherapy — and claimed to have been “programmed” to kill by an evil therapist.
“When he got out to his car, he wasn’t programmed no more,” Unruh says. “It sounded kind of crazy. He was trying to run it by me, basically.”
See the complete Westword article by Alan Prendergast
James Eagan Holmes (born December 13, 1987) is the suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting that occurred on July 20, 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. He had no known criminal record prior to the shooting.
On May 22, 2012, Holmes purchased a Glock 22 pistol at a Gander Mountain shop in Aurora, and six days later bought a Remington Model 870 shotgun at a Bass Pro Shops in Denver. On June 7, just hours after failing his oral exam at the university, he purchased a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle, with a second Glock 22 pistol following on July 6. All the weapons were bought legally. In the four months prior to the shooting, Holmes also bought 3000 rounds of ammunition for the pistols, 3000 rounds for the M&P15, and 350 shells for the shotgun over the Internet. On July 2, he placed an order for a Blackhawk Urban Assault Vest, two magazine holders and a knife at an online retailer.
On June 25, less than a month before the shooting, Holmes emailed an application to join a gun club in Byers, Colorado. The owner, Glenn Rotkovich, called him several times throughout the following days to invite him to a mandatory orientation, but could only reach his answering machine. Due to the nature of Holmes’ voice mail, which he described as “bizarre, freaky”, “guttural, spoken with a deep voice, incoherent and rambling,” Rotkovich instructed his staff to inform him if Holmes showed up, though Holmes neither appeared at the gun range nor called back. “In hindsight, looking back — and if I’d seen the movies — maybe I’d say it was like the Joker — I would have gotten the Joker out of it…It was like somebody was trying to be as weird as possible,” Rotkovich said
On July 20, 2012, police arrested an unresisting Holmes next to his car behind the Century 16 theater, moments after the 2012 Aurora shooting, in which Holmes allegedly set off several gas or smoke canisters and then opened fire on the theater audience, killing 12 and wounding 58. The responding officers recovered several guns from inside the car and the theater. According to two federal authorities, Holmes had dyed his hair red and called himself “The Joker”.
Century 16 theater, location of the shootings
Once apprehended, Holmes told the police that he had booby-trapped his apartment with explosive devices before heading to the theater. Police later confirmed the presence of explosives in the apartment.
Detention and court appearance
Holmes was initially jailed at Arapahoe Detention Center, under suicide watch. He is being held in solitary confinement to protect him from other inmates, a routine precaution for high-profile cases.
Holmes made his first court appearance in Centennial, Colorado on July 23, before Judge William B. Sylvester. He was read his rights and no bond was given. A mandatory protection order was issued by the judge. The judge appointed a public defender. Holmes said nothing and never looked at the judge. His appearance, which was described as “dazed” and “confused” fueled speculation about his mental state.
On July 30, Colorado prosecutors filed formal charges against Holmes that included 24 counts of first degree murder, 116 counts of attempted murder, possession of explosive devices, and inciting violence. The multiple charges expand the opportunities for prosecutors to obtain convictions. For each person killed in the shooting, Holmes is charged with one count of murder with deliberation and one count of murder with extreme indifference. Holmes agreed in court to waive his right to a preliminary hearing within 35 days.
On August 9, Holmes’ attorneys said their client is mentally ill and that they need more time to assess the nature of his illness. The disclosure was made at a court hearing in Centennial where news media organizations were asking a judge to unseal court documents in the case.
On September 19, the prosecution filed a motion to add 10 new charges against Holmes and asked to amend 17 others. The additional charges would bring the total counts Holmes faces to 152. Holmes appeared in the Arapahoe County Court house the following day for the first time without his dyed-red hair, but with cropped hair revealing his natural brown color.
On September 28, court documents released by prosecutors say Holmes was revoked access to the University of Colorado campus because he threatened a professor. The university has said Holmes was denied access to non-public parts of the campus because he had withdrawn from school.
On October 11, 2012, Holmes’ attorneys asked Judge William Sylvester to postpone a preliminary hearing scheduled for November. On October 25, the preliminary hearing was set for the week of January 7.
Holmes’ lawyers filed an emergency motion on November 14, 2012 to delay a pre-trial hearing, citing an unspecified condition that has left him unable to appear in court. “As a result of developments over the past 24 hours, Mr. Holmes is in a condition that renders him unable to be present in court for tomorrow’s hearing,” They requested to delay the hearing, which they received. It was rescheduled for December. Evidently, Holmes made various suicide attempts referred to as “half-hearted” in days before the scheduled hearing on November 15