AURORA | James Holmes’ sister took the stand Monday in the Aurora theater shooting trial, the first of several relatives expected to testify as the defense asks jurors not to sentence the convicted killer to death.
Chris Holmes, 22, said her brother was kind and had a knack for playing with small children. The siblings had two younger cousins who always wanted to play with her brother, she said.
“Sometimes I was jealous of how much they seemed to really like him,” she said.
Chris Holmes said her brother was private and didn’t like to draw attention to himself.
“He liked to keep how he was feeling to himself so he didn’t burden others,” she said.
After the July 2012 shootings, Chris Holmes said she visited her brother once in the jail and he was different from the man she remembered.
“His eyes seemed a lot different,” she said, later noting that his eyes seemed to bulge out of his head. “His whole demeanor seemed a lot different.”
Prosecutors opted not to cross examine Chris Holmes.
Holmes’ parents, Bob and Arlene, are also expected to testify during this phase of the trial, during which the defense is trying to convince the jury not to sentence Holmes to death. The defense said they expect to wrap this phase Wednesday. After that, prosecutors are expected to call the relatives of the 12 people killed in the theater during the July 2012 attack.
The same jury that convicted Holmes of murder and attempted murder earlier this month is deciding whether he should be executed.
Also Monday, jurors heard for a second time from William Metzner, a psychiatrist at the state mental hospital who examined Holmes after the shooting.
Metzner said during the trial that Holmes was sane at the time of the shootings but had a severe mental illness. He reiterated that Monday.
“There are significant problems in reality testing, being able to tell what’s real and what’s not real,” he said.
Metzner said that if not for Holmes’ mental illness — which he diagnosed as a schizo-affective disorder — the shootings wouldn’t have happened.
Judge Carlos Samour Jr. also questioned jurors Monday about whether they had followed the news about the shooting last week at a Louisiana movie theater that left three dead, including the gunman. Several jurors said they saw a few details about the case, but said it wouldn’t effect how they rule in Holmes’ trial.
The trial started in late April and is expected to wrap before the end of August.
Court is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.