‘Schizophrenia Choose Him, He Didn’t Choose It,’ Theater Shooter’s Mother

In this image made from Colorado Judicial Department video, Arlene Holmes, top right, the mother of James Holmes, fourth from left, in white shirt, gives testimony during the sentencing phase of the Colorado theater shooting trial in Centennial, Colo., on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.


James Holmes’ mother is expected to take the stand later in the day for her first comments since the trial began April 27.

But, as he has throughout his trial, James Holmes simply rocked softly in his chair at the defense table.

Robert Holmes was testifying in an effort to sway the jury vote for a life sentence instead of the death penalty for his son.

He looked out for his sister, Chris, five years younger; impressed his second-grade teacher; baked cookies with his grandma; and made a Valentine for his dad, who said he was “really a pretty excellent kid”.

As James Holmes watched his father being cross-examined on the witness stand Wednesday, the convicted Colorado theater shooter reverted to what has become his routine during numerous trial’s more contentious moments: He swiveled.

The mother of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes is on the stand as his lawyers try to persuade jurors to spare his life. When he returned to school, he avoided calls and emails from both his mother and father.

Fenton said Holmes admitted to having homicidal thoughts, but she said he told her nothing about having plans or targets, nor did he mention hearing voices, or suffering from hallucinations, mania, or depression.

In her opening statement, defense attorney Rebekka Higgs told the jury: “We don’t kill people for being sick”.

She said she was especially shocked when she learned he used guns in the attack because the family never had guns and she didn’t think he knew how to use one. “To have him in that far corner is also interesting to me”. “She didn’t, she didn’t, she didn’t tell me”, she wept.

“He was not a violent person”.

Holmes, who waived his right to testify, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 and wounding 70 others in the rampage.

James Holmes told the court that he would not be testifying in the penalty phase of the trial.

Holmes’ chair pivoting was unmistakable during closing arguments of the guilt phase on July 14. But this time they were anxious because the psychiatrist said James, who had broken up with the only girlfriend he’d ever had, planned to drop out of school.

Arlene Holmes also complained that the University of Colorado psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, didn’t respond to a message seeking more details about their son.

Throughout the trial, Holmes hasn’t seemed to swivel, at least not noticeably, when Judge Carlos Samour speaks or during routine court matters.

Fenton testified earlier that she called James Holmes’ parents, despite her concerns that she was violating her client’s privacy, because she was trying to decide whether he posed a danger to himself or others.

Robert Holmes said he and his wife had no idea before the July 2012 massacre that their eldest child was mentally ill, or harbored impulses to kill.

They said capital punishment is justified because Holmes murdered a large number of victims; caused a grave risk of death to others; committed murder in a heinous, cruel or depraved manner; and laid in wait or ambush.

He spoke of his son’s idyllic boyhood in Castroville, a small California town south of San Jose that treasured its children. And that’s not true. “We never were hunters or target shooters”. “He was really good with them”, she said.

Holmes is not the first high-profile defendant to let his emotions show. She also said that his parents “want to reassure him that we are there for him if he has some need”. Families who have shown up during this time bring books and crossword puzzles to keep their minds off of the humanization of the man many of them call a “monster”.


All the psychiatrist said when she called on June 11, 2012, was that her son was dropping out of his graduate course in neuroscience at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

James Holmes's parents take stand arguing against death penalty                      WMAR