James Holmes hearing: "Rot in hell, Holmes" outburst prompts judge to reconvene hearing
This morning, Judge William Sylvester granted a defense motion to continue the arraignment of alleged Aurora theater shooter James Holmes until the week of March 12. But just after the brief hearing was adjourned, a man later identified as Steve Hernandez, father of victim Rebecca Wingo, who died in the July 20 attack, said loudly, "Rot in hell, Holmes," prompting Sylvester to call everyone back into the courtroom.
Holmes was at today's hearing and may have still been in the room when Hernandez made his comment.
Hernandez was detained by sheriff's deputies. After everyone had reentered the courtroom, including Holmes, Sylvester explained that he had called them back because "we had an outburst. What I heard was somebody from the gallery shouting, 'Rot in hell, Holmes.'" Members of the prosecution and defense teams, with whom Sylvester said he had consulted before reconvening, both said they'd heard the same thing.
At that point, Sylvester directly addressed Hernandez, who stood near the low wall separating the gallery from the area reserved for the judge, the attorneys and the defendant. "I'm terribly sorry for your loss," Sylvester said, "I can only begin to imagine the emotions" coursing through him at the hearing.
"I meant no disrespect to the court or your honor," Hernandez said, after which Sylvester asked if he thought he could refrain from future outbursts. Hernandez responded in the affirmative.
Afterward, Sylvester noted that he had heard some noises at another point during the proceedings, when the defense counsel requested the continuance until March. A number of people in attendance responded with grumbling that echoed the response to a survey of victims conducted last night, when several were contacted after Sylvester announced that the trial would move forward. Jacob Edson, one of the prosecutors, said 84 victims who'd been contacted objected to a continuance, six took no position and three did not object.
Audible reactions of this sort would not be tolerated, either, Sylvester stressed, adding, "There needs to be a proper amount of dignity" to the proceedings. He said he'd instructed sheriff's deputies to remove anyone making noise or comments in the future.
Continue for more about today's hearing.