James E. Holmes dedicated the brown spiral notebook, filled with plans for mayhem and the philosophical rantings of a seemingly unhinged mind, to his family: “To Goober Chrissy Bobbo Love yuhs.”
The 27-year-old is on trial for his life after committing one of the worst mass shootings in American history, and the slim volume released to the public Wednesday is the central piece of evidence in the widely watched trial.
Holmes' mental state is the main question facing jurors, and the book offers an unfiltered look at how the onetime neuroscience graduate student thinks. His attorneys hope it will help persuade the jury that Holmes is insane. Prosecutors count on it to prove he is a canny killer.
Its graph-paper pages hold chilling instructions on how to kill innocent people, incomprehensible musings about life, death and all manner of topics in between, and pages scrawled with a single word, over and over, larger and larger, in the shooter's loopy, cursive script: “Why?”
Holmes mailed the letter-sized notebook to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado just hours before he shot 12 moviegoers to death and injured 70 others during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a suburban Denver multiplex.
FOR THE RECORD
2:27 p.m., May 27: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the massacre took place on Jan. 20.
Holmes admits he shot up the Aurora, Colo., theater on July 20, 2012, but he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Large excerpts of his writings were read aloud Tuesday in Division 201 of the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo., where he faces 166 charges, including murder in the first degree.
Judge Carlos Samour Jr. ruled that Aurora Police Sgt. Matthew Fyles could not simply read every page. Instead, jurors were given copies of the document, and prosecutor Karen Pearson walked the officer through carefully chosen sections.
First Fyles quoted from Holmes' deliberations about how best to kill the most people. Biological weapons require too much knowledge, Holmes wrote; serial killing, too much contact with victims; and bombs are too well-regulated.
The upshot? “Mass murder/spree,” Fyles read. “Check mark.”
Then Fyles related Holmes' deliberations on choosing his target: “‘Venue,'” Fyles read, “‘airport or movie theater.' Then it says ‘airport' with an X. ‘Substantial security. Too much of a terrorist history. Terrorism isn't the message.
“‘The message is, there is no message. Most fools will misinterpret correlation for causation, namely, relationship and work failures as causes. Both were expediting catalysts, not the reason. Causation being my state of mind for the past 15 years.'”
But the careful plans that led to the massacre were just a small segment of the strange journal. The rest of the notebook was fodder for the defense, with long ruminations, lists of symptoms and descriptions of failed attempts at therapy.
“Can a person have both no value AND be ultimately good AND/OR ultimately evil in value? * unknown,” Holmes wrote. “Why does the value of a person even matter?”
“Life's fallback solution to all problems — Death,” he wrote. “Multiplying both sides of an equation by 0. When mankind can't find truth, untruth is converted to truth via violence (X0) problem = ? 0xproblem=(?)X0 * based on an incorrect theorem 0=0 problem = solved 0=0.”
And among the more chilling passages:
“Family therapy w/ Mel,” Holmes wrote. “Revealed nothing as to not appear weak amongst family. Was a kid at time. Parasuicide, mother noticed, asked what happened, replied paper cut.
“No further investigation. — Clean bill of health,” he continued. “Decided to dedicate life to killing others so that I could live.”
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