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January 17th, 2013
09:21 AM ET

Aurora shooting victim family member boycotts theater opening, argues theater using shooting as momentum for opening

Six months after the massacre in Aurora, the Century 16 movie theater where 12 people were killed and nearly 60 wounded is scheduled to roll its screens again. The Colorado theater will reopen to the public tommorrow, remodeled and renamed.

The newly renovated theater was opened this week for private visits from family members. A formal reopening dedicated to the remembrance of the tragedy will be held tonight. Aurora's mayor and Colorado's governor are expected to speak. But many families have decided not to attend tonight. Jessica Watts, whose cousin Jonathan Blunk was a victim of the shooting at Aurora, is one those boycotting the reopening. She joins us live from Denver this morning.

Watts says she has no interest in attending the theater’s reopening because she feels families are “being used as pawns” and as “momentum for their public ticket sales.” However, some families did visit the theater and said it was therapeutic for them. Watts believes “it depends on the healing process” whether some find it helpful or not. “All of us are at different stages of healing and grief and…different levels of trauma,” she says. “I know of a few family members that are going back, but I choose not to, just because I would rather focus my energy on…how we can make a change…in policies, kind of according to what President Obama wanted to do yesterday.”

The president proposed measures to curb gun violence yesterday, but it looks unlikely that the Senate will pass an assault weapons ban. Still, Watts feels hopeful. “Our pleas are being heard,” she says.

January 10th, 2013
07:12 AM ET

James Holmes took photos of Aurora theater month ahead of massacre; CNN's Ed Lavandera reports details from prelim hearing

The preliminary hearing presenting evidence against James Holmes for the “Dark Knight” shooting is over. A judge will decide tomorrow if the case goes to trial. CNN’s Ed Lavandera has been reporting on the hearing from Centennial, Colorado and tells us more about the chilling details it has uncovered to the public.

“Prosecutors have laid out a detailed time line of how Holmes planned the Aurora theater massacre,” he says. “Investigators say James Holmes started casing the Century 16 movie theatre about three weeks before the shooting. They say he came here on three different occasions and snapped off a series of pictures they found on his iPhone that showed various hallway and doors, even the exit area of theatre nine.” According to prosecutors, Holmes also spent weeks stockpiling weapons and rigging an explosive system in his apartment timed to detonate just before he started the killing spree.

“Holmes's deviant and deadly plan feels more like the deranged creation of a fictional villain in a Batman movie,” Lavandera says. “But all these disturbing details we've learned in the past 3 days still don't explain why James Holmes wanted to kill so many people.”

January 8th, 2013
07:05 AM ET

Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson discusses the latest in Aurora massacre hearing

CNN is reporting new details about the immediate aftermath of the Aurora theater shooting this morning as the preliminary hearing of suspect James Holmes continues today. A police officer testified that Holmes “seemed very detached from it all.” Other officers described the chaos and confusion at the scene as they tried to help victims. More witnesses will take the stand today. The hearing will ultimately determine whether there is probable cause for a trial. Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson comes to “Early Start” this morning to discuss the latest developments.

Prosecutors are presenting their evidence against Holmes in this preliminary hearing. Jackson explains that, while the jury is watching, “the judge is examining is all of the evidence to determine whether or not that evidence meets the standard of having him legally held and, of course, having the trial move forward.” He thinks the judge will make that determination and move forward to that trial. “And that's when there will be fireworks.”

Jackson also offers his idea of whether there will be a plea deal. "I think with this mounting evidence,” he says, “it would be incumbent upon the defense team to contemplate a plea deal, particularly if they're looking to save his life which might be something that would entice them to say ‘I’m guilty.’”

January 7th, 2013
07:49 AM ET

Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes hearing; Criminal Defense Attorney Anne Bremner discusses case

A preliminary hearing of the tragic movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado begins today. Prosecutors are set to unveil evidence against James Holmes, the 25-year-old suspect who is charged with killing 12 people and wounding at least 58 others at a midnight showing of the Dark Knight last July. It will be the first time the public will hear details of the shooting as the judge in the case determines whether the evidence presented is sufficient for Holmes to stand trial on more than 150 counts, including murder, attempted murder and weapons charges. Anne Bremner is a criminal defense attorney. She discusses what to expect from the case today on “Early Start” this morning.

“This may be the only hearing where the facts are vetted,” Bremner says. “There may not be a trial if there’s some kind of bargain in the works in the future.” She explains that it will be difficult for victims, but in her experience as a former prosecutor, they want to be present to hear all the details. “There’s gonna be autopsy reports. There’s gonna be video from the within the theater. There’s gonna be first-hand accounts of how he was shooting again and again and again at people. People were dying. That will all be in this hearing.”

December 18th, 2012
07:03 AM ET

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks inside the violent mind; researchers say none of 10 killers studied had just "snapped"

Newtown, Connecticut is a town in mourning in the aftermath of the tragic shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many questions are being asked in the wake of the devastation, especially why the shooter did what he did. A body of research on previous mass murders may provide clues as to what the killers share in their minds. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is exploring that story.

“A close look at ten of the most analyzed mass murder cases in history provides some remarkable insight,” Dr. Gupta says. "According to this research published in the journal, Aggression and Violent Behavior, doctors typically start by placing killers into three categories: traumatized, psychotic,  psychopathic."

In each case studied, "the killers showed signs of psychotic behavior, severe delusions and paranoia," Dr. Gupta says. "Looking back, none of them had snapped. They had all left clues, pieced together after it was too light. Hindsight.”

August 9th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Media requests release of documents in James Holmes shooting case

Later today, accused aurora shooter James Holmes is expected to be in a courtroom again for a hearing. A Colorado judge will decide whether to lift parts of a gag order to release evidence in the case against him. All this comes on the heels of new reports of more red flags raised that paint a disturbing picture of a tragedy that might have been prevented.

The hearing is centered on media companies’ call for the judge to unseal more documents in the case. Because of the seal, lawyers representing the media do not even know what two of the documents are about.

Criminal defense attorney Lisa Wayne trained the two public defenders for James Holmes' andweighs in.

August 2nd, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Were red flags on James Holmes ignored? Attorney Joey Jackson on the legal implications

(CNN) - The psychiatrist treating the accused Colorado movie theater gunman was so concerned about his behavior that she mentioned it to her colleagues, saying he could potentially be a danger to others, CNN affiliate KMGH reported Wednesday, citing sources with knowledge of the investigation.

The psychiatrist's concerns surfaced in early June, nearly six weeks before the July 20 killings inside a movie theater in Aurora, sources told the Denver station. Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded when the gunman opened fire during a screening of the new Batman film. James Holmes, 24, was charged Monday with murder and attempted murder in the case; he also faces two weapons charges.

This morning on "Early Start," criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson discusses the legal implications of the report.


July 30th, 2012
06:28 AM ET

Colorado shooting suspect to return to court today – Jim Spellman on charges Holmes faces

Aurora, Colorado (CNN) - The man accused of opening fire inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater is expected to return to court Monday where he will face formal charges.

James Holmes is suspected of killing 12 people and wounding 58 during a screening of the new Batman film on July 20. He is also being held in connection with the subsequent discovery of his booby-trapped apartment, which authorities think he rigged before leaving for the Century Aurora 16 multiplex.

Holmes made an initial appearance in court last week, giving the public its first look at the 24-year-old former doctoral candidate since his arrest moments after the shooting.

Holmes is being held without bond at the Arapahoe County Jail, where he is in isolation. He is being represented by a public defender.

On "Early Start" this morning, Jim Spellman reports on the charges Holmes is likely to face in court today.

July 26th, 2012
08:06 AM ET

Aurora shooting suspect mailed package to campus- Ed Lavandera reports

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins Early Start this morning live from Aurora with the latest on the package that the theater shooting suspect mailed to the University of Colorado.

July 25th, 2012
07:12 AM ET

Christian Bale surprises victims of the Aurora shooting- Jim Spellman talks visit

Families of Colorado shooting victims are preparing to lay their loved ones to rest today and several memorials and visitations are scheduled for this week.

CNN's Jim Spellman joins Early Start this morning live from Aurora to explain the uplifting story of victims Caleb and Katie Medley and to discuss the reaction to Christian Bale's surprise visit to shooting survivors.

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