EDITOR’S NOTE: Raw video of Deborah Cave’s outburst and contempt hearing can be found below
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — An outburst briefly interrupted the closing statement from Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who was pushing for the death penalty in the sentencing hearing portion of the Aurora theater shooting trial on Thursday.
The woman, later identified as Deborah Cave, was jailed for her vocal eruption. Friday, she appeared in court on additional charges related to the courtroom disrupution. The judge in that case ordered her to undergo a mental health evaluation.
The remarks came during phase two of the sentencing hearing for James Holmes, who was convicted earlier this month of killing 12 and injuring 70 others in a July 20, 2012 shooting.
FOX31 Denver reporter Justin Joseph said Cave jumped three rows in the direction of Holmes’ parents before being tackled by five Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputies approximately 15 minutes into Brauchler’s closing statement.
A camera did not capture Cave’s movements, but her outburst was caught on courtroom microphones:
“He (Brauchler) is wrong, because mental illness is everything! I’m the biological mother; she’s the surrogate! They took him away from me! And they adopted him because they knew they (inaudible) … My family is full of FBI. (inaudible) … He didn’t know! Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him. It’s not his fault! (inaudible)”
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Deputies forcibly removed Cave from the courtroom, but she continued to scream in the hallway.
“Why didn’t you give him my pictures?” she said, among other questions, demands and exclamations.
In her contempt of court hearing later in the day, Cave claimed she had sent Holmes photos and letters that the court returned. She also claimed she had filed a formal amicus curiae motion to speak before the court in May 2013 that was rejected.
An “amicus curiae” is an individual who is not a party to a case and believes he or she can offer important information, but who has been requested by neither the prosecution nor the defense to address the court.
“I was harassed on Friday, Monday and Tuesday for being here,” Cave told the court during her contempt hearing. “You can check the video in the hallway. … They blackmailed me, made me show my ID. Then they didn’t want to let me wear a California shirt. Just picking on me; needling away and trying to provoke me.”
Though he was patient in allowing Cave to state her case, District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. was as stern as he has been through the course of the six-moth trial in delivering his ruling that Cave would be held in direct contempt.
“What you did was extremely serious, it was extremely improper and it is extremely offensive to the authority and dignity of the court,” Samour said. “My job is to defend the dignity of the court.”
Cave didn’t take the ruling lying down.
“Well then the court should have dignity of humanity and not have a death penalty,” she yelled. “It offends me as a human being that other human beings kill each other legally!” she said.
Cave slammed her fist on the courtroom podium at the end of the last statement. Samour responded by sentencing her to three weeks in the Arapahoe County Jail, telling the three present deputies to “take her away.”
Cave yelled “Ya’ll are just gonna create 12 more murders!” as she was hauled out of the courtroom a final time.
She also faces a misdemeanor charge of assault. She’s scheduled to appear in court on that charge Friday afternoon.
It would seem the ruling pleased Arapahoe County District Attorney Rich Orman, who argued “if there was ever a circumstance where someone deserved be held in direct contempt, it’s this one.”
Lead defense attorney Tamara Brady disagreed, saying the woman “is obviously mentally ill” and that getting her some sort of assistance might be more prudent than throwing her in jail.
Samour said he would not assume Cave was mentally ill, saying she had been in court for five days and “chose to follow the rules” before Thursday.
“It wasn’t until we had courtroom full of people — when we had more exposure — it wasn’t until then that she decided not to comply with my order” against emotional outbursts, Samour said.
When closing arguments concluded around 3:30 p.m., jurors began deliberating as to whether the 62 mitigating factors presented by the defense in phase two of the sentencing hearing would outweigh the four aggravating factors they agreed existed in phase one.
If they find mitigation does outweigh aggravation, Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
If the jury finds the mitigating factors do not outweigh the aggravating factors, the sentencing hearing will continue to phase three and the death penalty will remain a sentencing option.