Death Penalty For Aurora Gunman?

by Jay Gray
NBC News

CENTENNIAL, COLORADO - James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 during a shooting spree in a Colorado movie theater, faced a judge for the first time Monday.

The initial was the first public glimpse of the suspect since the murderous rampage.

"He does look fairly, seems like demonic or something like that," David Sanchez, the father-in-law of one victim, said after the hearing.

The 24-year-old, accused of plotting for months before carrying out his murderous rampage, wore an maroon jailhouse jumpsuit, his hair dyed bright red and pink.

Holmes was disengaged during the brief hearing, his head bobbing back-and-forth, at times wide-eyed and seemingly on edge, while at other moments he appeared to struggle to stay awake, fighting to keep his head up and eyes open.

The ten minute proceeding was really little more than legal house keeping, with the judge setting the rules on what both sides in the case can discuss publicly and allowing the defense to examine the crime scene and suspect's apartment.

Charges in the case will come next Monday.

A decision on the death penalty will take much longer after discussions with survivors and families of the victims.

"If the death penalty is sought, that's a very long process that will impact their life for years, so we would want to get their input before we make any sort of decision on that," District Attorney Carol Chambers said after the hearing.

Prosecutors stress this is still a very active investigation.

"We're still looking at the enormous amount of evidence and we would never presume that it would be slam dunk," Chambers added.

It will likely be a year or more before a trial.