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Colorado theater shooter's attorneys say his dazed and sullen look reflects mental state


CENTENNIAL, Colorado — Defense attorneys trying to convince jurors that Colorado theater shooter James Holmes was insane focused Tuesday on a familiar image of him looking dazed and sullen with a shock of fiery orange hair.

Jurors saw an 11-minute video of Holmes during his first court appearance on July 23, 2012, three days after he killed 12 people and injured 70 during a crowded midnight movie premiere. He looks confused and disoriented, sometimes squinting, looking downward or staring off into space. His hair is dyed and disheveled, his eyes wide and dilated.

Holmes' attorneys say he was in the grips of a psychotic episode during the shooting and his strange appearance reflects his mental state at the time. But prosecutors suggested he looked that way because he hadn't gotten much sleep and was bearing the stress of facing more than 100 counts of murder and attempted murder.

The video clip was an example of Holmes' odd, post-arrest demeanor that has so far been the focus of his defense case. Deputies, a jail nurse and ambulance workers all testified Tuesday about Holmes' strange and self-destructive behavior that included running into walls, repeating nonsensical phrases and ranting about shadows. That led to a hospital visit in November 2012, where doctors who treated him said he seemed psychotic and put him on medication he still takes today.

Holmes seemed sleepy and struggled to stand during his first court appearance, said Arapahoe County sheriff's deputy Thomas Triska, who escorted him. Prosecutor Rich Orman suggested Holmes knew there was a television camera watching him that day.

Holmes watched television news nightly after the shooting, another deputy, Jacob Lofland, testified. Holmes became so famous that a fellow inmate passed him a note seeking an autograph and a drawing, Lofland said. The inmate said he wanted to be the only one who had it.

Holmes read the note but did nothing, Lofland said.

Several women also sent Holmes photos of themselves, which he hung neatly on his cell wall.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. If jurors agree Holmes was insane, he would be committed to a mental health institution indefinitely.

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