James Holmes, the gunman behind the Dark Knight massacre in Colorado last July, has reportedly turned Muslim and prays five times a day.
The killer showed off a lengthy, thick beard during a court appearance earlier this month, and a prison source has claimed it is a symbol of his new-found faith.
The source said Holmes has turned to Islam as a way of justifying his horrific murder spree in an Aurora, Colorado cinema on July 20 which left 12 people dead and 58 people wounded.
‘Changed man’: James Holmes, pictured in a Colorado courtroom during his arraignment on March 12, has reportedly turned Muslim in a bid to justify his horrendous killing spree
‘He has brainwashed himself into believing he was on his own personal jihad and that his victims were infidels,’ a prison source told the National Enquirer.
He now prays five times a day, sticks to a strict Muslim diet and spends hours each day studying the Qur’an, the source said. But his new routine has upset Muslim inmates.
‘None of them condone forms of terrorism or extremism,’ the source added. ‘And they don’t want their religion to be connected to that awful shooting.’
Holmes sported a thick, bushy beard and unkempt dark brown hair during his appearance earlier this month – a stark difference to his bright orange hair at the time of the massacre.
Different look: A prison source claimed Holmes’ new beard is a symbol of his new-found faith; it is a stark difference from his appearance in July 2012 (left) just after the killings and in September (right)
Holmes is charged with 166 counts, mostly murder and attempted murder, in the assault on moviegoers at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora.
On the night of the attack, prosecutors say he donned a police-style helmet, gas mask and body armor, tossed a gas canister into the seats and then opened fire.
The judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf earlier this month. In the nearly eight months since Holmes first shuffled into court, neither he nor his lawyers have said much about how he would plead.
If Holmes is convicted, he could be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Prosecutors have not said yet whether they will pursue the death penalty, but will make their decision known on April 1.
Holmes’ lawyers repeatedly raised questions about his mental health, including a recent revelation that he was held in a psychiatric ward for several days last fall, often in restraints, because he was considered a danger to himself.
Holmes’ parents, James and Arlene, were also at the hearing, supporting their son for the first time in court. They sat silently at the front of the room and left without comment after the hearing.
The judge set August 5 for the start of the trial.