This courtroom sketch shows James Holmes being escorted by a deputy as he arrives at a preliminary hearing in district court in Centennial, Colo., on Jan. 7.(Photo: Bill Robles, AP)
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- An FBI explosives expert testified Tuesday that
mass murder suspect James Holmes rigged his apartment with an extensive
array of homemade bombs designed to decimate his apartment building
and create a diversion from the July 20 shootings at a suburban Denver
movie theater that killed 12 and wounded or injured nearly 60 more.
on the second day of Holmes' preliminary hearing, Garrett Gumbinner
said Holmes booby-trapped his apartment with explosives and triggering
devices that would be tripped when the front door was opened. The
explosive devices included homemade napalm, thermite, and glycerin
Holmes designed to mix with potassium permanganate, a mix of metal
powder and oxides, igniting a fire or explosion. Holmes had also set up a
detonator outside of his Aurora apartment building, hoping someone
would come along and trigger the device, normally designed to control a
remote-controlled toy car.
Gumbinner's testimony underscored the
elaborate planning Arapahoe County District prosecutors contend Holmes
used to carry out a premeditated massacre at Aurora's Century 16
Cineplex in the early hours of July 20. The preliminary hearing will
determine if there is sufficient evidence to try Holmes on more than
160 charges of first degree murder and attempted murder.
detailed how Holmes rigged his apartment's entryway with fishing line,
tied to a thermos bottle in the kitchen. When the door was opened, it
was designed to knock over the thermos containing glycerin and
positioned above a pan filled with potassium permanganate. When
combined, the chemical reaction sets off sparks. Holmes apartment was
filled jars of napalm and other incendiaries. Even the carpet was
soaked with gasoline and oil, which set ablaze, would have intensified
the carnage, Gumbinner said.
Police were alerted to his
apartment by a neighbor who heard loud music Holmes had pre-programmed
to play on his computer. Holmes also told arresting officers -- who
found him in police style protective gear by his car at the rear of the
theater -- that there were explosives at the apartment. Authorities
later disarmed the devices without mishap.
detectives and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Supervisor Steven
Beggs outlined a series of purchases Holmes made beginning on May 10,
when he bought two teargas grenades online from an on-line supplier. He
later purchased tactical gear, the chemicals used for explosives,
nearly 6,300 rounds of ammunition and four weapons found at the theater;
a semi-automatic assault rifle, pump-action shotgun, a laser-guided
pistol and a second handgun in the weeks leading up to the shootings.
All of the items were purchased legally at Denver area stores or
through Internet dealers from California to Maryland. Aurora Police
Detective Craig Apple, who has supervised Holmes' case, later testified
that 76 shots were fired in the theater, including 65 from the assault
rifle, six from the shotgun and five from a Glock pistol. The weapons
have the same serial numbers as those purchased by Holmes between May 22
and July 6, Apple said.
Apple also testified that following his
arrest, Holmes acted irrationally at a detention facility, at one point,
taking a staple from a desk and trying to insert it into wall
electrical outlet. At another point, Holmes made puppet motions with his
hands, which had been covered with bags before they were tested for
Holmes' attorneys say their 25-year-old client, a
University of Colorado doctoral program dropout, suffers from mental
illness and have indicated they will mount an insanity defense. Holmes,
who dropped out in June after failing an oral exam, was seeing a school
But prosecutors -- who wrapped up the witness
portion of their case late Tuesday -- summoned Aurora Police Detective
Tom Wilton to testify earlier in the day that Holmes had shown
premeditation not just by his weapons purchases, but when he opened
accounts with online dating services match.com and AdultFriendFinder.com
weeks before the shootings.
His dating profiles were headlined "Will You Visit Me In Prison?"
Wilton's testimony drew some snickers from the courtroom audience,
which included shooting victims and family members. But Holmes, bound at
the hands and feet and flanked by several armed sheriff's deputies,
again sat impassively through testimony. Except for briefly rocking his
chair in a sideways motion for a few minutes Tuesday afternoon, Holmes
stared straight ahead.
Earlier in the hearing Tuesday, witnesses
testified about some of the chilling 911 calls that came from the
theater as the shooting began.
Detective Randy Hansen said there were 41 separate calls within the first few minutes of the shooting.
first call to police played in court came from inside the theater from
Kevin Quinonez at 12:38 a.m. Hansen said during the 27-second call he
heard at least 30 gun shots. The call came in 18 minutes into the
showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
Police also played a 911
call from Kaylin Bailey, the teenage cousin of 6-year-old Veronica
Moser-Sullivan, the youngest person killed. Veronica's mother, Ashley
Moser, was also shot. She miscarried after the shooting and is partially
paralyzed. Bailey frantically called emergency dispatchers, who tried
to talk her through administering CPR. As screams filled the theater, a
panicked Bailey sobbed, said she couldn't hear and couldn't do it.
courtroom witnesses dabbed their eyes during the tape. Holmes stared
straight ahead as the call was played, showing no emotion.