Theater shooter’s ex asked him to see therapist
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Months before James Holmes opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, his ex-girlfriend said she urged him talk to his therapist after he mentioned having thoughts about killing people, but his thoughts “seemed very philosophical” and not a concrete threat.
Gargi Datta also testified Thursday that during their relationship, Holmes showed no interest in guns, including when they visited an outdoor store that sold weapons, and that she did not know about his meticulous plans for the July 20, 2012, attack or the arsenal he assembled.
Datta and Holmes were graduate students at the University of Colorado when they began dating during their first semester in the fall of 2011. By February 2012, she did not want anything more than a casual relationship, and the two remained “friends with benefits” until Holmes told her in early April he could not continue the relationship as friends after telling her that he loved her. After that, Datta said, she did not communicate with Holmes and only saw him in the classroom.
District Attorney George Brauchler has said Holmes’ breakup with Datta was a catalyst to the shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater. He said Datta was Holmes’ first romantic relationship.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the attack that killed 12 people and injured 70. Prosecutors contend Holmes was sane, and they are seeking the death penalty.
In March 2012, Datta said, Holmes sent her an electronic message about wanting to “do evil” and killing people to increase his self-worth, or human capital, a belief previously discussed during the trial. She was concerned, so she showed a friend, and they both asked him to talk to his therapist about it. He assured them that he was.
“Initially I was just thinking he was messing with me, that he was joking. It didn’t make sense to me and it seemed a bit irrational,” said Datta, who had earlier suggested that Holmes see a therapist because of his social awkwardness.
In court, Datta never looked directly at Holmes and repeatedly referred to him as “the defendant” rather than his name. Holmes swayed in his chair as she spoke but had no other visible reaction.
In contrast, defense attorney Tamara Brady showed a photo of Datta and Holmes, both smiling, on a hike they took before they severed ties and pointed out that Holmes had baked chicken and made shrimp for a candlelit Valentine’s Day dinner for her.
Brady also displayed four side-by-side images of how Holmes looked when he was arrested after the 2012 theater shooting — with wide eyes and a shock of orange hair. Brady asked if she had ever seen Holmes look like that before. She said no.
District Attorney George Brauchler seized on that later, asking, “Had you ever seen the defendant before he tried to murder a theater full of people?” The defense objected, but she was allowed to answer “No.”
Datta concluded her testimony, but the judge told her she could be summoned back.
She took the stand before jurors were shown a graphic video of the crime scene taken by an investigator hours after the attack.
The 45-minute silent video showed bodies sprawled throughout the theater and wedged between rows of seats amid pools of blood, spent ammunition and spilled popcorn.
Holmes showed no emotion as he watched the video.
Earlier in the day, more victims testified about their experiences in the theater, including Farrah Soudani, who described being eviscerated by bullets that pierced her abdomen. She recalled bending down and picking up her intestines, trying to hold them inside her and then laying on the bloody theater floor while paramedics tried to carry her out of the theater.
She had seven surgeries and a procedure on her stomach for injuries that included broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a hole in her stomach, burns and a gunshot that destroyed her left calf, which she showed jurors by pulling up her pant leg.
Also Thursday, the judge said he would consider a defense request to dismiss a juror after her brother-in-law was shot three times during an armed robbery Wednesday in Denver. The juror told the judge her brother-in-law is expected to recover and that the incident will not affect her service on the jury. Judge Carlos A. Samour initially agreed that she could remain, but later in the day, the defense asked that she be removed because other jurors had seen her crying.
Earlier this week, three jurors were dismissed amid concerns they had seen news reports about the case.
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