The judge in the Colorado movie massacre trial on Thursday jailed a supporter of convicted gunman James Holmes for three weeks over an outburst she made in court during the prosecution’s closing argument.
The outburst by spectator Deborah Cave came as the district attorney was addressing the jurors who will decide if mitigating factors in the case outweigh aggravating ones that could justify the death penalty for 27-year-old Holmes.
“Don’t kill him! He’s wrong. It is mental illness!” cried Cave as she climbed over rows of seats towards Holmes in the crowded courtroom at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on the outskirts of Denver.
She was tackled by two sheriff’s deputies and dragged into the hall where she continued to shriek.
After both sides concluded their closing arguments and the jury and defendant left the court, Judge Carlos Samour had Cave brought before him, her hands cuffed to a chain at her waist.
He said she was in contempt of court, especially since deputies cautioned her about how to behave when she attended the trial earlier in the week.
She said she sent a photograph of herself to “Jim” in jail, presumably referring to Holmes, but police returned it. Officials and strangers had harassed her at the court, she said.
“What you did was extremely serious and extremely improper and it is extremely offensive to the authority and dignity of the court,” the judge told her.
“It offends me, as a human being, that other human beings kill each other, legally!” Cave shouted back, banging on the podium. “You can’t justify murder with murder!” she yelled as she was led away.
The jury has already found Holmes guilty of killing 12 people and wounding 70 during his mass shooting a midnight screening of a Batman film in Aurora.
They have also determined that aggravating factors were proved which could justify the death penalty, unless the defense can persuade them that mitigating factors are more important.