Alleged Colorado Shooter James Holmes Is Dazed in Court

Alleged Colorado shooterJames Holmes appears dazed, nodding off in courtroom.

ByABC News
July 23, 2012, 6:38 AM

July 23, 2012 — -- James Holmes, the man accused of opening fire at a Colorado movie theater, appeared dazed in court today, the first time he has been seen in public since he allegedly killed 12 people and wounded another 58 during a showing of the new Batman movie.

Holmes, 24, appeared in court unshaven with a shock of dyed reddish-orange hair, and a prison jumpsuit that appeared to conceal a bulletproof vest.

He said nothing in the courtroom and spent much of the hearing looking down, his head drooping at times. He demeanor ranged from a glassy bug-eyed stare to appearing to be nodding off.

Holmes' appearance raised questions among some observers about his mental competency.

"He's not in this courtroom mentally," former FBI profiler Brad Garrett, an ABC News analyst, told "World News." "He's elsewhere. He's in some alternative reality that he's created. I also think that there's a combination of the reality of what has happened to him has set in, as to what it's done to himself as well as to the victims."

ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams told "World News" the scene also might set the stage for an insanity defense.

"This is likely how he was arrested, what he looked like at the time," Abrams said. "This is somebody who was arrested at the scene, dressed up like the killer with the weapon, so you start to think his most likely defense is some mental defect defense. So why would you suddenly want to make him seem more sane? But with that said, I think his lawyers are probably just getting to know him now and there was just no reason to make any change."

In fact, Holmes' behavior apparently was similarly detached at the police station before his court appearance. He stared at walls with his eyebrows twitching and used evidence bags placed over his hands to preserve possible gunshot residue as hand puppets, sources told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver.

Even so, Holmes likely will be found competent to stand trial, Abrams said, because such a determination requires "a very low standard."

"The only question is: Can you really talk to your lawyers? Do you understand what's going on?" Abrams added.

PHOTOS: Colorado 'Dark Knight Rises' Theater Shooting

Holmes was not arraigned today, but was held without bond on a probable cause order for first degree murder. He is expected to return to court next week, to be formally charged and enter a plea.

Holmes is being held in solitary confinement and was brought to the courtroom via an underground tunnel.

Five family members, on behalf of three victims, were in the courtroom today. Each was assigned a victim-advocate, armed with a box of tissues.

Before the hearing started, a female relative of a victim stood up and approached a male relative of another victim -- presumably a total stranger -- and introduced herself. The two then engaged in a long hug.

When Holmes entered the room, they all stared at him intently, some of them craning their necks to do so.

Asked whether Holmes was on medication or drugs at the time of today's hearing, Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters, "We would have no information about that."

Arapahoe County Undersheriff Dave Walcher would not comment on whether Holmes was on drugs, saying, "I can absolutely not comment on any inmate or any other medical conditions or medication an inmate might be on."