James Holmes in jail photos from July and September (Arapahoe Co. Sheriff's Office)
All eyes in the packed courtroom were trained on the door just to the left of the jury box. The feeling was tense as we waited to get our first look at the man suspected of committing one of the worst mass shootings in modern-day American history.
Perched on my tiptoes, I quickly scribbled in my reporters notebook as James Holmes was escorted into the room.
"Armed deputies in royal blue."
"Looked down ... shackled in front."
"Maroon jumpsuit, curly red hair."
Three days earlier, 12 people were killed and 58 others wounded when police say Holmes went on a shooting rampage during a sold-out showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Some reported that Holmes told arresting officers he was the Joker, the infamous villain from the Batman movies.
In court, it appeared he was trying to look the part. His wavy hair was dyed a cartoonish orange-red. He appeared dazed. His eyes opened and closed often. His head bobbed.
Now, eight weeks later, a strikingly different Holmes arrived in court. Gone were the dyed hair and mutton chop sideburns.
Reporters at Thursday's hearing said the 24-year-old former neuroscience student looked around the room at lawyers and journalists, smiled, and seemed to follow the courtroom conversation. The Associated Press also wrote that he appeared to be moving his mouth but not actually talking.
At least one family member receiving updates about Holmes from the courtroom told the AP that the alleged gunman's demeanor was an act to appear mentally ill.
"He's just putting on a show," said Greg Medek of Aurora, whose daughter Micayla, 23, died in the shooting. "I don't think he's crazy. He's just evil."