A week’s worth of court appearances for James Holmes ended Friday with an outburst from the father of one of the Aurora theater shooting victims.
“Rot in hell, Holmes!” shouted Steve Hernandez after Holmes’ arraignment was postponed until March 12.
Hernandez’s daughter, Rebecca Wingo, a 32-year-old mother of two, was among the 12 people Holmes is accused of murdering at the midnight premier of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20. Seventy others were injured in the attack.
Late Thursday, Judge William Sylvester ruled that the evidence presented against Holmes during three days of often emotional and graphic testimony was sufficient to move the case to trial.
Sylvester granted the defense’s motion to postpone the arraignment even though most of the victims polled by the prosecutors objected to the delay.
Under Colorado’s Victim’s Bill of Rights, victims of violent crimes have a right to be heard in the court. Prosecutors said that of those they could contact prior to Friday’s hearing, 84 objected to the postponement, three had no objection and six took no position.
Sylvester agreed to the eight week delay out of an “abundance of caution,” he said, to avoid having to retry the case in the event of a successful appeal.
“We want to avoid at all costs doing anything that’s not completely proper,” he said, amid sighs and grumblings from the victims and their families who wanted the arraignment to proceed.
As soon as court was adjourned, Hernadez spoke up. It’s not clear if Holmes, who was standing to leave the courtroom, heard his comment. Sheriff’s deputies detained Hernandez and Sylvester called the court back into session to address the outburst.
“I am terribly sorry for your loss,” he told Hernandez, “and I can’t begin to imagine the emotions that must be raging.”
But he reminded him of the strict rules of decorum laid out for the court proceedings and asked if Hernandez could abide by them.
Hernandez apologized for his remark and promised no future trouble.
“I meant no disrespect to the court,” he said.
Although Holmes won’t enter a plea until March, the parties will be back in court Feb. 4. That’s when the defense plans to subpoena a Fox News reporter to testify about who leaked information to the press in violation of a gag order.
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