Theater gunman's writings alternate between ramblings, plans

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Colorado theater shooting gunman James Holmes' notebook full of scrawled writings and stick-figure drawings was made public Wednesday, a day after it was introduced as evidence in his trial.

The writings on about 30 pages in the brown, spiral school notebook alternate between sometimes incoherent ramblings and Holmes' methodical plans to attack the movie theater and maximize the number of people killed.

It provides the most comprehensive look yet into what Holmes described as his "broken" mind.

Prosecutors, however, are attempting to use its planning entries to undermine Holmes' claim that he was legally insane at the time of the July 2012 attack, which killed 12 and injured 70 others.



It's unclear when Holmes wrote the entries. Just before the shooting at a premiere of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," he mailed the notebook to a University of Colorado psychiatrist who treated him.

It was found unopened in a campus mailroom days later, after one of Holmes' attorneys called the school asking for it back. The notebook had $400 worth of burnt $20 bills wedged in its pages.

A judge gave all 24 jurors copies of the writings this week.



The notebook opens with drawings of stick figures, one standing, the rest presumably dead, and a series of equations that appear to try to evaluate whether a "murderer" gains value by killing people.

"Can a person have both no value AND be ultimately good AND/OR ultimately evil?" Holmes writes. "Unknown."



Holmes details various mental issues, diagnosing himself as suffering from schizophrenia, generalized anxiety disorder, psychosis and several other illnesses.

He writes that he goes catatonic for up to five hours in the middle of the day, pulls his hair, feels isolated and obsesses about various parts of his body.

"The real me is fighting the biological me," Holmes writes.

He also details an obsession with mass killing: "And, finally, the last escape, mass murder at the movies. Obsession onset (more than) 10 years ago. So, anyways, that's my mind. It's broken. I tried to fix it."



One section is titled "Crazy Thoughts." Holmes jots down notes about the Garden of Eden, the myths of Prometheus and Faust, and writes various, almost nonsensical essays on philosophical issues.

The section ends with the word "Why?" scribbled hundreds of times over eight pages in ever-larger writing.



Over three pages under the heading "The Shrinks," Holmes lists the names of psychiatrists or doctors he has visited and speaks of medication prescribed.

He writes: "Prevent building false sense of rapport. Speak truthfully and deflect incriminating questions. Oddly they don't pursue or delve farther (sic) into harmful omissions."

He concludes with: "No consequence, no fear, alone, isolated, no work for distractions, no reason to seek self actualization. Embrace the hatred, a dark knight rises."



Holmes lists various possible methods of violence, from attacking an airport to serial killing.

He diagrams and ranks by stars the individual theaters at the Aurora Cineplex for attack purposes, using sight lines, the number of exits and audience capacities.

"Can lock double doors, inflicting mass casualties," reads one entry. "Maximum casualties, easily performed w/ firearms although primitive in nature. No fear of consequences, being caught 99 percent certain."



In a section titled "Case the Place," Holmes writes: "Targets random. The cruel twists of fate are unkind to the misfortunate."

Holmes diagrammed various theaters at the Aurora complex, marking exit doors, evaluating his own visibility, even locating the best parking spots.

He listed pros and cons for attacks on each theater.

He also drew a raw map of the theater complex and a nearby National Guard facility and police station and wrote: "ETA Response (about) 3 mins."