Even without contemplating photographs of James Holmes – and keep in mind that the above picture was shot after the government forced the Aurora cinema killer to take psychiatric meds – the evidence is clear. James Holmes was nuttier than a Christmas fruitcake. Dangerously so. And plenty of people knew it. Wikipedia . . .
Holmes’ defense attorneys stated in a motion that he was a psychiatric patient of the medical director of Anschutz’s Student Mental Health Services prior to the Aurora shooting. The prosecutor disagreed with that claim. Four days after the release of the defense attorney’s motion, the judge required this information to be blacked out. CBS News later reported that Holmes met with at least three mental health professionals at the University of Colorado prior to the massacre.
One of Holmes’ psychiatrists suspected, prior to the shooting, that Holmes suffered from mental illness and could be dangerous. A month before the shooting, Dr. Lynne Fenton reported to the campus police that he had made homicidal statements. Two weeks prior to the shooting, Holmes sent a text message asking a graduate student if the student had heard of the disorder dysphoric mania, and warning the student to stay away from him “because I am bad news.”
None of this excuses Holmes’ murderous spree at the Cinemark cinema in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012, when the grad school drop-out shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 others. But the information highlights the likely veracity of his insanity defense. And reveals the government’s zeal to paint him as a cold-blooded killer as something of a coverup.
I’m no legal eagle, but I reckon Holmes’ defense should take the offense. They should highlight the university’s prior knowledge of Holmes’ dangerous disconnect from reality. Lest we forget, Dr. Fenton – a member of the school’s “campus threat assessment team” – rejected a police offer to involuntarily confine Holmes for 72 hours. That was after she told them that he fantasized about killing “a lot of people.”
Obviously, James Holmes must be tried for his crime. But his eventual, inevitable punishment is not the key to preventing future attacks. There’s only one way to raise the odds of detecting and then intercepting future spree killers: examine and expose the personal and systematic failures to intervene in this horrific crime. No matter how embarrassing or painful the learning process may be.