Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and President Obama are among those who… (Pool, Getty Images )
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — From the moment that James E. Holmes walked into court, his hands shackled, his hair a flaming orange, all eyes were riveted on the man accused of carrying out one of the worst mass shootings in the nation's history. And what they saw was perplexing.
Stripped of his body armor, the 24-year-old suspect turned out to be slender and pale, with a thousand-mile stare and tousled, comic-book hair, which looked bizarrely out of place in the formal setting of a courtroom. His expressions were hard to read, seemingly pained one moment, barely awake the next.
"You're no tough guy now," muttered Tom Teves, whose 24-year-old son, Alex, was among those who died in the bloodbath at a Batman movie in nearby Aurora early Friday.
PHOTOS: 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting
Teves was among the family members of victims who crowded into the three first rows. They whipped out their glasses as soon as Holmes stepped into court Monday and scarcely took their eyes off him for the 15 minutes it took for an initial appearance.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge William B. Sylvester ordered Holmes held without bail and scheduled another hearing for next Monday, when formal charges are likely to be filed. They are expected to include 12 counts of first-degree murder, which could carry the death penalty.
Holmes is the lone suspect in Friday's mass shooting, in which a gunman opened fire with three weapons, including an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," the latest Batman movie. Besides the 12 dead, 58 people were injured, almost all by gunfire. Holmes, dressed head to toe in body armor, was arrested moments later just outside the theater's emergency exit door.
WHO THEY WERE: Aurora movie theater victims
During the court appearance, Holmes did not speak. He sat wearing a maroon jail jumpsuit, staring sometimes at the floor, sometimes into space. His eyes, heavy lidded, periodically closed.
Was he on medication? Exhausted? Exhibiting signs of mental illness? The spectators had to wonder as they stared. Some people gazed up and down his frame; others stared fixedly at his face, as if trying to plumb his soul.
The fascination was not mutual. At no point did Holmes appear to even glance at the people whose lives were so dramatically changed by the violence unleashed early Friday.
The hearing was one of several developments in the case Monday.
Police discovered two suspicious packages in a building at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, a spokeswoman for the campus said. Holmes had been enrolled in a doctoral program there until June, when he withdrew. Police have said it was one of the places where he is suspected of receiving shipments of ammunition and bomb-making equipment.
After an investigation, university police determined that both letter-size packages were harmless, campus spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said.
Five gunshot victims remained in critical condition at the University of Colorado Hospital, spokesman Dan Weaver said.
San Diego attorney Lisa Damiani, spokeswoman for the Holmes family, held a news conference but declined to answer most questions about her clients and their son, saying they wanted their privacy respected.
"I'm not going to comment on how they are feeling," Damiani said. Asked whether Holmes' parents stand by him, Damiani said: "Yes, they do. He's their son."
She also said that Holmes' mother, Arlene, wanted to clarify what she told an ABC News reporter who called her early Friday to ask about her son. ABC had reported that when she was informed that her son was a suspect in a mass shooting, her response was, "You have the right person," suggesting that she was not surprised by the news.
However, Damiani said the mother had merely said, "Yes, I am Arlene Holmes and, yes, I have a son."
ABC said it stood by its reporting.
The legal proceedings against Holmes are likely to stretch out for a year or more. Arapahoe County Dist. Atty. Carol Chambers said the case against him is "not a slam dunk" and that "in a case like this the investigation doesn't stop. It will continue right up to the trial."
In a news conference outside the courtroom, Chambers said she expected that a trial could begin within a year, and that "if a death penalty is sought, that's a very long process" that would require interviews with hundreds of victims and witnesses.
A final decision on whether to seek the death penalty would be made within 60 days of the suspect's arraignment, Chambers said. Colorado has not executed anyone since the late 1970s and has only four inmates on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center website.
Daniel King, the public defender representing Holmes, was not immediately available for comment.