1 Aug 2012

Holmes faces 142 charges over cinema shootings

4:36 am on 1 August 2012

A former student accused of opening fire in a US cinema, killing 12 people, has been formally charged over one of America's worst mass shootings.

James Holmes, 24, faces 24 charges of murder, two for each of the 12 people killed, and 116 counts of attempted murder, two each for the 58 injured. He also faces two weapons charges.

For each person killed he faces a charge of murder with deliberation and one of murder with extreme indifference, the BBC reports.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

The authorities say he opened fire at random in a crowded movie theatre showing Batman film The Dark Knight Rises in the Denver suburb of Aurora on 20 July.

The judge banned cameras from the hearing on Monday.

Mr Holmes was reportedly quiet and unemotional during the hearing. At times, he appeared to be trying to focus his eyes.

Survivors of the shooting and family members of those killed attended the hearing.

Among the counts on the prosecutors' sheet, Mr Holmes faces a gun charge and another of possessing an explosive or incendiary device.

He allegedly wired his apartment with enough explosives to destroy the entire building had they been detonated. It took authorities several days to dismantle the booby traps.

Court documents filed on Friday by defence lawyers said the suspect had been under the care of a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Denver, where he had been in the process of dropping out as a neuroscience PhD student.