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Colorado shooter's mom feels guilt over his mental illness

Mother of Colorado theater shooting suspect feels guilt over not knowing of his mental illness

Colorado shooter's mom feels guilt over his mental illness

DENVER (AP) -- The mother of Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes feels guilty for not knowing her son was mentally ill and needed treatment, she wrote in a book of prayers and reflections compiled since the 2012 attack.

Arlene Holmes wrote in "When The Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes 2013-2014," that she can never forgive herself for not predicting the shooting, which left 12 dead and 70 others injured.

Holmes' parents and attorneys have said he was in the grips of a psychotic episode when he slipped into the suburban Denver movie theater and opened fire during a showing of a Batman movie. But the book offers no new insight into his diagnosis. Opening statements in his trial are scheduled for April 27. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

"I wrote Jim a letter telling him I am sorry I did not know that he was mentally ill," she wrote in a March 2014 passage. "The letter did not assuage my guilt. I apologize to the whole world. I was uneducated. So many deceased and so many badly injured, and I am still alive."

Holmes announced the book to the Del Mar Times ( in her first interview since the shooting.

She and her husband told the newspaper they are bracing themselves for their son's trial and still hope his life can be spared through a plea deal.

"This book is being published to raise awareness of the immorality of the death penalty and the futility of seeking justice through execution," she wrote in the book, which was taken largely from her handwritten journals.

The rest of the book contains prayers for prosecutors and defense attorneys alike, her experiences in the courtroom and reflections on her own struggles with depression after the shooting. She writes that she prays for victims daily, naming each of them. She also laments what she sees as a lack of compassion for the mentally ill.

In an entry from Jan. 12, 2013, she recalled the violence and wrote, "What were you thinking, Jim? And what are you thinking now? Praying for Jim in jail; please don't commit suicide. You lived so that we could understand you and others could study you and learn to prevent future tragedy."

Some victims' families questioned the timing.

"I can only think this is some kind of ploy. This is some type of strategy cooked up by the defense to try to save someone's life," said Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was killed in the shooting. Holmes' mother's thoughts and apologies mean little to him, he said. "As far as people I think about on a daily basis, they are so far down the list it's not worth mentioning."

Neither Holmes' parents nor an attorney representing them immediately responded to requests for comment. Arlene Holmes said her son's defense team had no knowledge of the book.

Updated : 2021-09-29 01:28 GMT+08:00