Robert Holmes says he didn't know his son was mentally ill

By Steve Helling
Updated July 28, 2015 09:00 PM
Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty

The father of convicted Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes spoke out for the first time in three years when he took the stand at his son’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

Robert Holmes, a retired financial fraud analyst, testified that he and his wife had no idea that their son was mentally ill before the 2012 massacre that killed 12 and injured 70 others.

Defense attorneys showed family photos and videos to the jury as Robert Holmes testified. The photos showed scenes of a typical American family smiling at the camera in campgrounds and at the beach.

The elder Holmes described his son as being “pretty affectionate” with his loved ones. He was a good student who loved soccer and video games.

But things took a darker turn when the family moved to San Diego. According to Robert Holmes, his son had trouble making friends and became isolated and withdrawn. The family began seeing a counselor.

“He had a few friends he hung out with, but generally, socially, he seemed pretty isolated. But he was still doing well in school, still participating in sports,” Robert Holmes testified, adding that he wasn’t concerned that his son was mentally ill.

Defense attorney Tamara Brady asked Robert Holmes if he still loved his son.

“Yes I do,” he replied. “Well, he’s my son. We always got along pretty well. He was, actually, an excellent kid.”

Robert Holmes was one of several character witnesses offered by the defense as they try to convince the jury to sentence James Holmes to life in prison. Last week, the jury refused to rule out the death penalty.

Holmes was convicted of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder earlier this month.

The defense is expected to call Holmes’ mother, Arlene, to the stand on Wednesday.

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