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7 things you didn’t see on the court monitor: Woman disrupts closings

"It's not true! Don't kill him! It's not his fault!"

Carol McKinley

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1. Deborah Cave is in the back row.  She’s been in the courtroom all week and suspicious deputies have already given her a warning about not making an outburst.  Still, just as DA George Brauchler is making his closing argument that James Holmes’ mental health does not outweigh the people he killed, Cave starts leaping over seats in her tennis shoes. She’s headed for Holmes’ parents as fast as she can screaming “It’s not true! Don’t kill him! It’s not his fault!”

2. A burly sheriff’s deputy we know only as “Herndon” and who has held watch in the back of the gallery every day is the first to reach the hysterical woman, dragging her across the tops of the seats, her legs kicking as shocked reporters step aside. Later, I tell Herndon he did a great job protecting everyone. I can tell he’s proud and he knows he’s done good. But he smiles. “She was squiggly.” In a conversation with the metal detector guy downstairs, we talk about the security process in this courtroom and note how even a pen can be a weapon. He says they’re not allowed to take scissors away from people. Why? He shrugs. What if?

3. It appears Cave did not bring a weapon other than her voice. As seven Arapahoe County sheriffs deputies wrestle her down the hallway churning away from Courtroom 201, one of them goes back for her belongings. He emerges with a purse, a pair of sunglasses and a half-empty bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino.

4. There are two sides of the courtroom. Cave was on the public viewing side, which is directly behind the defendant’s parents, who sit directly behind their son and his five attorneys. When it’s over, Mrs. Holmes erupts in tears.  Bob Holmes is consoling her. A man I assume is Bob Holmes’ brother is also there as shocked as anyone else. On the victims’ family side of the courtroom, a few of family members of those who were killed are crying.  And theater shooting survivors have again experienced someone jumping up out of the blue when they least expect it. Their safety is again threatened. But this time, law enforcement are steps away from the surprise attacker.

5. Cave is brought into 201 within the hour in handcuffs for a contempt of court hearing. All 10 attorneys are in the gallery, this time as observers. They are somber.  And maybe shellshocked.  Cave has a chain around her waist and a deputy on either side of her.  She won’t shut up about how she’s been mistreated by the sheriffs all week. They wouldn’t let her in when she was late. They wouldn’t let her in wearing a Colorado logo t-shirt.   After listening to her rants, Judge Carlos Samour sentences her to 3 weeks in  jail. “Take her away.”

6. A couple of male reporters who have been in the courtroom are talking about  Cave’s strange behavior all week. They’re shaken up because she made a pass at both of them. My friend Julie Gautier who is a CBS producer, had to put her dog down the other day. She said Cave approached her in the elevator, “Is he a bad dog?” and something about him deserving it. Reminds me of “Play Misty For Me.”

7. Finally, Arlene Holmes. She was in the defense’s side room during the short contempt hearing presumably so that she wouldn’t have to see this woman again. Afterwards, she emerged, shaken up in the hall surrounded by her son’s attorneys who hugged her. Now that the shock is wearing off, it’s clear. It was a very tough day.

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Explanatory multimedia reporting from CU Boulder journalism students
7 things you didn’t see on the court monitor: Woman disrupts closings