James Holmes court appearance: Aurora theater massacre suspect due in Arapahoe County court today

AURORA, Co. -- James Holmes, 24, will appear in court Monday morning to face dozens of charges in the mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 people and injured dozens more.

An initial advisement hearing is set for 11:30 a.m. (EST) at the Arapahoe County Courthouse. It will mark the first time Holmes has been seen in public since early Friday morning, when he was taken into custody in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Holmes has been held in the Arapahoe County Detention Center on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder.

His lawyer is James O'Connor, Arapahoe County's top public defender.

Authorities said Saturday that the case is likely to stay in state court.

Monday's court appearance is expected to be brief. His appearance will start the clock ticking on a 72-hour deadline for the district attorney to file formal charges against him. He'll then have an arraignment to be advised of the formal charges filed against him.

District Attorney Carol Chambers must decide if her office will seek the death penalty in the case. If not, Holmes would get mandatory life in prison without parole, if found guilty of the first-degree murder charges that would be filed against him.

Two of the three people on Colorado's death row were put there by the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office. They are Robert Ray and Sir Mario Owens, convicted of first-degree murder in the 2005 ambush slaying of a shooting witness and his girlfriend.

Under Colorado state law, a prosecutor must inform the court and the defendant that the state will seek the death penalty within 60 days of arraignment. Under the law, defendants are eligible for the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree murder with at least one aggravating factor, which can include ambushing a victim or using an explosive device.

"It is all but certain that prosecutors will file first-degree murder charges against Holmes in the Arapahoe County courthouse and that they'll seek the death penalty, criminal law expert Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver, told the Los Angeles Times.

Colorado has executed only one prisoner since the death penalty was reinstated in 1984: Gary Davis in 1997.

Police said Holmes lobbed tear gas into the Century 16 Theater showing the midnight premiere of "The Dark Night Rises," then opening fire on unsuspecting patrons early Thursday.

After he was apprehended, Holmes told officers that he had loaded explosives into his apartment. Crews meticulously cleared the apartment on Saturday.

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