Bill Robles / Reuters
James Holmes as he appeared in court in September.
Police officers who were among the first to arrive at a Colorado movie theater massacre told a court Tuesday that suspect James Holmes was "very relaxed" and wore a "self-satisfying offensive smirk" when they encountered him.
The Aurora, Colo., cops gave their accounts at a hearing to determine whether Holmes' statements after the July 20, 21012, mass shooting can be used at his trial.
But the accused gunman had not been read his rights when he answered the officers' questions — so the defense wants those comments barred from evidence.
Prosecutors argue that the cops were trying to find out if anyone else was at risk so they were allowed to grill him and the statements should be admissible.
Officer Jason Sweeney testified that the first thing he saw when he arrived at the theater — where 12 people had just been shot down — was bloodied victims. He quickly focused on a man next to a white compact car who was wearing Kevlar gear, a helmet and gas mask but "wasn't acting like a police officer."
Sweeney said he and Officer Jason Oviatt pulled their guns, cuffed Holmes and asked him if he was with anyone.
"No, it's just me," Holmes said, according to Sweeney.
Oviatt said Holmes' voice was "calm... detached." and he "spoke clearly."
As the officer dragged the handcuffed suspect away from the theater, he was "very relaxed — limp, and along for the ride," he testified.
Defense lawyer Dan King asked whether Holmes had attempted to run or grab a gun, and the officer said he had not.
Officer Justin Grizzle testified that when he arrived, he found Oviatt and Sweeney standing next to a "suspect wearing body armor" and helped them hold his legs so he could be handcuffed.
As Holmes sat in the back of a police cruiser. Grizzle asked if he acted alone.
"He just smiled at me. He looked at me and smiled — a self-satisfying, offensive smirk," Grizzle said.
Shackled in the courtroom, Holmes, 25, had no visible reaction to the testimony.
The grad-school dropout has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
First published October 15 2013, 2:27 PM