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Colorado shooting suspect appeared groggy in court

James Eagan Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a movie theater in Colorado last week, appeared in court with orange hair, looking fatigued. Police are still searching for a motive in the case. 

By Keith Coffman and Mary SlossonReuters / July 23, 2012

Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes attends his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes is the man accused of shooting dead 12 people in a Colorado movie theater during the midnight screening of the new Batman movie early Friday.

REUTERS/RJ Sangosti/Pool

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CENTENNIAL, Colo.

The man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting rampage at a midnight showing of the new "Batman" film in a Denver suburb made his first court appearance on Monday, looking drowsy and emotionless, his unruly hair dyed shades of orange and red.

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James Eagan Holmes, 24, who was arrested outside the theater immediately after the massacre, appeared groggy during the brief hearing, staring straight ahead and occasionally closing his eyes as if fighting off sleep. He was shackled at the wrists and ankles.

About 40 members of the victims' families were seated on the left side of the courtroom. One man seated in the front row of the gallery glared at Holmes throughout the proceedings.

When Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester asked Holmes a question, he remained expressionless and his attorney answered for him.

Police say he presented a far different figure last Friday when, dressed in a gas mask and body armor and toting three guns, he opened fire at a packed midnight show of "The Dark Knight Rises" at a theater complex in the Denver suburb of Aurora in the early hours.

The dead include war veterans, an aspiring sportscaster who had narrowly escaped a shooting in a Toronto mall earlier this summer and a 6-year-old girl.

The girlfriend of 24-year-old Alex Teves said he died while saving her life from the gunman in the confusion of the dark movie theater.

"He protected me. My baby didn't hesitate. I was very confused, and he didn't hesitate," a tearful Amanda Lindgren, also 24, told Reuters.

Fifty-eight other people were wounded and many of them have serious injuries.

Quiet High-Achiever 

Holmes, a former neuroscience student, also left his apartment booby-trapped with explosives that authorities said could have destroyed the apartment complex. They conducted a controlled detonation over the weekend.

Police say they are still searching for a motive for the crime, which baffled fellow students and acquaintances, and have asked for assistance from the FBI's behavioral analysis unit. They described Holmes, a native of San Diego, as a quiet high-achiever whose past gave little inkling that anything was amiss.

At the hearing the judge set a date of next Monday for formal charges to be filed.

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said she would consult with the wounded victims and families of the dead before making a decision on seeking the death penalty.

Chambers, who has prosecuted two of the three inmates now on Colorado's death row, told reporters outside the courthouse that the decision on the death penalty had to be made within 60 days of his arraignment, "so it's months down the line."

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