Gunman James Holmes' notebook read out loud in Aurora movie theater shooting trial

Posted at 11:10 AM, May 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-27 10:12:52-04

Prosecutors introduced the movie theater shooting gunman's notebook during the 18th day of his trial, trying to show how James Holmes carefully planned the mass shooting, weighing his options on various ways to kill and even detailing steps to take beforehand, such as "research firearms laws and mental illness."

The morning began with the prosecution calling a mailroom worker from the University of Colorado - Anschutz campus, where the package was recovered. Next, an officer was called to testify about receiving the package containing the notebook.

The notebook itself was introduced through the testimony of Aurora Police Department Sgt. Matthew Fyles. It has never before been made public, despite repeated court hearings to determine if it would be admissible in trial. 

Fyles described the front cover of the notebook, saying, "There is a line for 'Course' and it says 'Of Life.' It's been written in red ink."

Based on the instructions of District Court Judge Carlos Samour, attorneys were allowed to ask Fyles to read sections of the notebook but he was not allowed to read the whole thing from beginning to end.

"Did he discuss having a desire to kill people?" prosecuting attorney Karen Pearson asked.

"Yes, he does," Fyles answered.

The notebook and other mental health evidence will be central to the jury's final decision in the case, since Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 others on July 20, 2012. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

"The obsession to kill since I was a kid, with age, became more and more realistic," Fyles read from the notebook at Pearson's prompting.

Later, when public defender Dan King was conducting his cross examination, additional quotes on this subject were read to the jurors: 

  • "First obsession onset: More than 10 years ago."
  • "So anyways, that’s my mind. It is broken, I tried to fix it. I made it my sole conviction but using something that is broken to fix itself proved insurmountable."
  • "Neuroscience seemed like the way to go, but it didn’t pan out."
  • "In order to rehabilitate the broken mind, my soul must be eviscerated. I could not sacrifice my soul to have a normal mind."
  • "Despite my biological shortcomings, I have fought and fought."
  • "Always defending against predetermination and the fallibility of man, there is one more battle to fight with life, to face death, embrace the longstanding hatred of mankind, and overcome all fear and certain death."

Prosecutors also asked Fyles to read excerpts from the notebook that dealt with the planning of the mass shooting that was eventually carried out. In those sections, the gunman considered and then crossed-out the idea of bombs, biological warfare and serial murder.  Of serial murder, he wrote "too personal, too much evidence, easily caught, few kills."

He settled on a mass murder or murder spree, despite the realization that he would be caught. 

"Maximum casualties," Fyles read aloud from that portion of the notebook. "Easily performed with firearms, although primitive in nature. No fear of consequences. Being caught, 99% certain."

Testimony also revealed that the would-be-gunman next considered where to carry out his attack. "Airport" was crossed out and a note beside it indicated that he didn't want his message to be confused with terrorism.

"Terrorism isn't the message," Fyles read from the gunman's notebook. "The message is there is no message."

After settling on an attack at the Century 16 movie theater, the gunman considered three options for his attack: Starting in Theater 12, starting in Theaters 9 or 10, or starting at the "smokers' escape."

The shooter wrote, "What better place to case than that of an inconspicuous entertainment facility?"

He noted that the targets would be random. "The cruel twists of fate are unkind to the misfortunate."

Additionally, Fyles was asked to read a kind of to-do list the gunman itemized in his notebook. It parallels testimony presented during the first half of the prosecution's case about purchases and other preparations:

  • "Buy stun gun and folding knife"
  • "Research firearms laws and mental illness"
  • "Buy handgun"
  • "Committed - shotgun - AR-15"
  • "Second handgun"
  • Wildcard; explosives. Simplest and least suspicious; gasoline and oil
  • "Acquire remote detonation system and body armor"
  • "Practicing shooting at Byers Canyon Rifle Range"

The notebook, Fyles revealed, ended with this quote on the final page: "Embrace the hatred. The Dark Knight Rises."

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