Emotions boil in Colorado as accused theater shooter’s arraignment is delayed

Jason Sickles
The Lookout

[Updated at 11:45 a.m. MT]

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The father of a woman killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting blurted out "Rot in hell, Holmes" moments after the judge put off arraigning the suspected gunman, James Holmes.

Steve Hernandez, father of Rebecca Wingo, was sitting among other victims and family members in the packed courtroom. Many of them were visibly upset that Judge William Sylvester had just postponed an arraignment scheduled for Friday until March 12.

Hernandez was detained by three sheriff's deputies while the judge met privately outside the courtroom with Holmes' defense attorneys and prosecutors.

When the judge re-entered the courtroom, Hernandez publicly identified himself as the father of the late 32-year-old Wingo.

"I'm terribly sorry for your loss and can't even begin to imagine the emotions that are raging," Sylvester said from the bench.

Hernandez told the judge he meant no disrespect for him or the court.

"I promise there will be no further outbursts," said Hernandez, who was then allowed to leave.

Shooting victim Marcus Weaver was with Wingo when she was killed. He told Yahoo News that Hernandez had come from California to attend this week's preliminary hearing.

"I can only imagine how he has felt spending the week listening to all the evidence," Weaver said. "I can see why he exploded. He's frustrated."

Overnight, prosecutors polled as many victims as they could reach after Holmes' public defenders indicated they would not be ready to enter a plea at Friday's hearing.

Eighty-four said they didn't want to see a continuance, six had no opinion and three said they did not object.

Weaver, who voted against the continuance, said it's a difficult time because many take time off for hearings and the movie theater is about to reopen.

"Pushing the arraignment back is just one more thing," he said.

The judge acknowledged the trial was an emotional issue for everyone involved.

"We understand your need for disclosure," Sylvester told the courtroom audience. "We are doing our best to make sure these proceedings are going as smoothly as possible." However, he noted that Holmes' rights must be followed to avoid appeals down the line.