(CNN/AP) — The trial begins Monday, April 27th for James Holmes — a man whom prosecutors say was becoming unhinged in the months before he dressed in a gas mask and body armor and began shooting at a packed midnight “The Dark Knight” premiere.
Prosecutors say the 24-year-old neuroscience graduate student told a classmate he wanted to kill people. He also threatened his psychiatrist, and began massing an arsenal of weapons, including thousands of bullets and enough chemicals to rig his apartment into a potentially deadly booby trap.
His trial starting Monday could finally help explain why a promising scientist-in-training would kill 12 people and wound 70 more during the July 20th, 2012 attack in suburban Denver.
But experts say anyone looking for a single trigger or tipping point may be disappointed, since mass shootings often mark the end of a killer’s long decline.
Here is some background information about the July 20th, 2012, movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Twelve people were killed and 70 others were injured. Holmes faces 165 counts, including murder and attempted murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Fatalities: (12 total)
- Jonathan T. Blunk, 26
- Alexander J. Boik, 18
- Air Force Staff Sgt Jesse E. Childress, 29
- Gordon W. Cowden, 51
- Jessica Ghawi, 24
- Petty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer, 27
- Matthew R. McQuinn, 27
- Micayla C. Medek, 23
- Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6
- Alex M. Sullivan, 27
- Alexander C. Teves, 24
- Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
James E. Holmes: Birth date: December 13, 1987
Birth place: San Diego, California
Birth name: James Eagan Holmes
Father: Robert Holmes, a scientist
Mother: Arlene Holmes
Education: University of California, Riverside, B.S. in neuroscience, 2010 (graduated with highest honors). University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus, enrolled in 2011 as a doctoral candidate in its neuroscience program. Withdrew in June 2012.
Police say he bought the guns used in the incident legally at two sporting goods stores — Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain — and purchased more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online.
Timeline: July 7, 2012 – James Holmes purchases a ticket, through an online ticketing agent, for the July 19 midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater, in Aurora, Colorado.
July 19, 2012 – Holmes attends the midnight showing of “The Dark Night Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater, in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes enters theater #9 but soon exits through a rear door on the right side of the screen, leading to a parking lot. He leaves the door propped open and returns through it, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation.
July 20, 2012 – Eighteen minutes into the movie, shortly after midnight, a gunman opens fire into the audience.
The gunman is “dressed head-to-toe in protective gear”- a ballistic helmet, protective gear for his legs, throat and groin, black gloves and a gas mask. He props open the door, before throwing two tear gas canisters into the theater. After both canisters explode, witnesses say he started shooting, first at the ceiling and then at the crowd. Police say he used an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns police recovered at the scene.
Twelve people are killed and 58 are wounded.
Holmes surrenders to police outside the theater within seven minutes of the first 911 calls, according to Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates.
Five buildings, including Holmes’ apartment building at 1690 Paris St., are evacuated after the suspect makes a statement to police about explosives in his unit. According to police, his apartment has been booby trapped with a tripwire at the front door that would have touched off an array of explosives and flammable liquids.
July 21, 2012 – Investigators disarm all the makeshift bombs in Holmes’ apartment, using a “controlled detonation” to disable a second triggering device. The explosives removed include more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline.
July 23, 2012 – James Holmes makes his first court appearance. He is ordered to be held without bond.
July 25, 2012 – Authorities discover a package in a University of Colorado-Denver mail room apparently sent by Holmes.
July 30, 2012 – Holmes is charged with 142 counts including first-degree murder. Among the charges are 116 counts of attempted murder, one count of felony possession of explosive devices, and one sentence enhancer.
August 1, 2012 – Denver station KMGH reports Holmes’ psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton of the University of Colorado, told colleagues in June that he could be potentially dangerous to others, but before any action could be taken Holmes began the process of dropping out of the university.
September 20, 2012 – Holmes appears in court to hear the State’s motion adding ten additional counts of attempted murder. He is now charged with 152 felonies.
October 11, 2012 – A Colorado judge approves 14 more attempted murder charges against Holmes, bringing the total to 152 charges, including murder and weapons offenses.
October 26, 2012 – The State files a motion to bring additional attempted murder charges against Holmes. He faces 165 counts, including murder and attempted murder charges.
November 16, 2012 – It is announced that the Aurora Victim Relief Fund will distribute donations to families of those killed and some victims wounded in the shooting.
March 13, 2013 – Holmes and his defense team say in court they are not ready to enter a plea at this time. The judge in the case enters a standard plea of not guilty on Holmes’ behalf.
March 27, 2013 – According to court documents, Holmes offers to plead guilty and spend life in prison in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
April 1, 2013 – The district attorney rejects Holmes’ offer, announcing that he will seek the death penalty.
May 7, 2013 – Holmes’ attorneys file to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of their client.
May 13, 2013 – Holmes pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.
June 4, 2013 – A judge accepts Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Holmes will be taken to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for evaluation and is expected to be returned to Arapahoe County Jail on August 2.
July 10, 2013 – Attorneys for James Holmes file an objection to the judge’s ruling that their client must be restrained during the trial, by means of hidden harness anchored to the floor. In the filing, the attorneys concede that Holmes carried out the movie theater attack and say, “Mr. Holmes suffers from a severe mental illness and was in the throes of a psychotic episode when he committed the acts that resulted in the tragic loss of life and injuries sustained by movie goers on July 20, 2012.”
August 28, 2013 – Judge Carlos Samour rules that the victims of the shootings will be allowed to watch the trial proceedings despite the possibility they may be called as witnesses.
February 19, 2014 – Judge Samour orders Holmes to undergo an additional sanity examination, saying there was good cause to believe previous testing was “incomplete and inadequate,” according to a ruling.
July 9, 2014 – Judge Samour delays Holmes’ trial, originally scheduled for October 2014, in order to allow the additional sanity exam to be completed.
December 19, 2014 – The parents of James Holmes speak out for the first time in a written statement published by the Denver Post stating they believe the “death penalty is morally wrong, especially when the condemned is mentally ill.” They also believe that the attention should now be focused on the “injured and healing” and would like to avoid a “traumatic trial.”
January 20, 2015 – Jury selection begins in the trial of accused shooter James Holmes. 9000 potential jurors have been summoned.
April 14, 2015 – Twelve jurors and 12 alternates are selected. The group includes 19 women and five men. It’s almost entirely white and mostly middle-aged.
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