Colorado cinema gunman outwardly shy but outgoing in private: ex-girlfriend

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 10, 2015 11:30 PM

By Keith Coffman

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) - The former girlfriend of Colorado cinema gunman James Holmes testified at his capital murder trial on Wednesday that the admitted shooter was quiet in public but was more outgoing when alone with her or their friends.

The line of questioning appeared to focus on the personality of the man prosecutors say went on a killing spree just months after facing difficulties in graduate school and being rejected by his then-girlfriend, Gargi Datta, who said she met Holmes when they attended University of Colorado-Denver in 2011.

Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to fatally shooting 12 moviegoers and wounding 70 more at a suburban Denver multiplex in July 2012.

When asked by prosecutor George Brauchler if she "knew this guy," pointing at Holmes at the defense table, Datta said "yes" but did not look directly at him.

Prosecutors have charged the former neuroscience graduate student with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder, and said that they will pursue the death penalty if he is convicted.

Datta took the stand a day after Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour dismissed three jurors after he determined they were tainted by hearing or discussing media coverage of the case.

Only the judge and attorneys for both sides know which of the 16 women and five men remaining on the panel will deliberate the case, and which are alternate jurors.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists who examined Holmes have previously testified that while severely mentally ill, he was sane when he plotted and carried out the rampage, adding that he wrote in his journal of having a "long-standing hatred of mankind."

Datta said she and Holmes were among a group of graduate students that socialized, and the pair began dating in the fall of 2012.

On their first date, they went to a horror film festival in Denver, she said.

"That's romantic," Brauchler said.

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Data said Holmes seemed shy and quiet in class but would talk "a decent amount" when he was alone with her or with their fellow graduate students.

"He never had highs and lows of emotions," she said.

About five months before the massacre, Datta said she broke up with Holmes because she "didn't see a future with him."

"I think he liked me more than I liked him," she said.

Datta will be back on the stand on Thursday.

Jurors on Wednesday also viewed gruesome autopsy photographs of six victims during testimony from a medical examiner.

"I'm so sorry for this," Dr. Michael Doberson told the jurors when a photograph of a victim with a fatal head wound was shown in court.

(Editing by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Ken Wills)