In the jail cell video, James Holmes stands on the edge of his low bunk with his back facing out. He crosses his arms over his chest. He falls backward. The Denver Post says the defense in the Aurora movie theater shooting trial opened its portion of the case yesterday with a literal thud, showing jurors a video of Holmes making a trust fall-style tumble into no waiting arms. To defense attorneys, the fall in 2012 when Holmes was in jail was a dramatic manifestation of the psychotic mental illness that drove him to kill 12 people and wound 70 others and that now forms the basis for his defense against murder.
Its introduction kicked off a part of the case that will focus far more on intellectual inquiry into Holmes’ mental state and less on the emotional, victim-driven testimony that marked much of the prosecution’s case. The debate around it and the defense’s other witnesses yesterday also showed how vigorously prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty and have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Holmes was sane, will fight any suggestion of insanity.