CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Months before James Holmes opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, his ex-girlfriend said she urged him talk to his therapist after he mentioned having thoughts about killing people, thoughts that to her “seemed very philosophical” and not a concrete threat.
Gargi Datta also testified Thursday that during their relationship, Holmes showed no interest in guns, including when they visited an outdoor store that sold weapons. She did not know about his meticulous plans for the July 20, 2012, attack or the arsenal he assembled.
Datta and Holmes were graduate students at the University of Colorado when they began dating during their first semester in the fall of 2011. By February 2012, she did not want anything more than a casual relationship, and the two remained “friends with benefits” until Holmes told her in early April he could not continue.
They stopped talking after that, and Datta no longer saw Holmes and outside the classroom.
District Attorney George Brauchler has said Holmes’ breakup with Datta was a catalyst to the shooting during a midnight premiere of a Batman movie. Datta was Holmes’ first romantic relationship, and he had told her he loved her. She told him she cared about him only as a friend.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the attack that killed 12 people and injured 70. Prosecutors contend Holmes was sane, and they are seeking the death penalty.
In March 2012, Datta said, Holmes sent her an electronic message about wanting to “do evil” and killing people to increase his self-worth, or human capital. She was concerned, so she showed a friend, and they both asked him to talk to his therapist about it. He assured them that he was.
“Initially I was just thinking he was messing with me, that he was joking,” said Datta, who pressed Holmes further about his philosophy. “It didn’t make sense to me and it seemed a bit irrational.”
In court, Datta never looked directly at Holmes and repeatedly referred to him as “the defendant” rather than his name. Holmes swayed in his chair as she spoke but had no other visible reaction.
In contrast, defense attorney Tamara Brady showed a photo of Datta and Holmes, both smiling, on a hike they took together, and pointed out that Holmes had baked chicken and made shrimp for a candlelit Valentine’s Day dinner for her.
Brady also displayed four side-by-side images of how Holmes looked when he was arrested after the 2012 theater shooting — with wide-eyes and a shock of orange hair. Brady asked if she had ever seen Holmes look like that before. She said no.
Datta took the stand before a crime scene investigator showed jurors a 45-minute silent video of the inside of the theater, with bodies sprawled throughout aisles and wedged between rows of seats amid pools of blood, spent ammunition and spilled popcorn.
Holmes stared ahead and watched, again showing no emotion.
Earlier in the day, more victims testified about their experiences in the theater, including Farrah Soudani, who described bullets tearing through her abdomen. She recalled trying to hold her intestines inside her before paramedics carried her out of the theater.
Another survivor, Julia Vojtsek, told of wiggling out from underneath her boyfriend’s lifeless body after he dove on top of her to protect her.
Also Thursday, the judge said he would consider a defense request to dismiss a juror after her brother-in-law was shot three times during an armed robbery Wednesday in Denver. The juror told the judge her brother-in-law is expected to recover and that the incident will not affect her service on the jury. The defense asked that she be removed because other jurors had seen her crying.
Earlier this week, three jurors were dismissed amid concerns they had seen news reports about the case.
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