Gargi Datta testifies about James Holmes's disturbing ramblings

By Steve Helling
Updated June 11, 2015 09:15 PM
Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty

At first, it was like any other young romance.

James Holmes and Gargi Datta were both graduate students in the University of Colorado’s neuroscience program. She invited him to become part of a study group. He eventually asked her on a date in the fall of 2011: to a horror film festival. She was his first sexual partner; he told her he loved her.

But by early 2012, Holmes began saying alarming things to Datta. They broke up in February, but remained friendly. “At some point, he said he loved me,” Datta testified, “and I said I cared about him as a friend, but I said I was not in love with him.”

In March, Holmes, now 27, sent her an message, saying he wanted to “do evil” and kill people to increase his self worth. She showed the email to a friend, and they both urged him to seek professional help.

Months later, Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theater, killing 12 and injuring more than 70 others.

No one was more shocked than Datta, who testified in court on Thursday that she thought he was not a serious threat.

“I was just thinking he was messing with me, that he was joking,” Datta testified. “It didn’t make sense to me. Then he starts talking about justice. At that point, I thought, maybe he was serious, but it seems to be philosophical.”

Although she did not think any attack was imminent, Datta and a friend decided to confront Holmes. “We were a bit concerned,” she testified. “We went to talk with him. We asked if he was talking to his therapist, and he said he was.”

But Holmes was lying; he never spoke about killing people with his school psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton. “I didn’t know that,” Datta testified, looking away from Holmes. Several members of the jury took notes.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty to the murders by reason of insanity, but a psychiatrist who treated him says he was sane at the time of the shooting.

If Holmes is convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.