Aurora Theater Shooting: James Holmes' Mother Says She Was Shocked Her Son Knew How to Use a Gun

Aurora Theater Shooting: James Holmes' Mother Testifies
James Holmes
Andy Cross/The Denver Post/AP

07/30/2015 AT 08:40 AM EDT

The mother of the convicted Colorado theater shooter James Holmes spoke out for the first time in three years when she took the stand at her son's sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Arlene Holmes echoed her husband's testimony, telling the jury she was unaware of any mental illness her son had before the 2012 massacre that killed 12 and left 70 injured.

"She didn't tell me. She didn't tell me. She didn't tell me," Arlene said on the witness stand about her son's psychiatrist. "We wouldn't be sitting here if she told me that."

Arlene continued her testimony by saying that her son's psychiatrist, Lynne Fenton, was seeing him for social anxiety. She added that the only news Fenton shared was that James had quit school, which Arlene said she had suspected.

She went to describe her son as being responsible and painstakingly shy and introverted, but so were other members of their family. "We never thought it was something like schizophrenia," she said.

Despite being withdrawn when he was young, Arlene said that James has never hurt anyone prior to July 20, 2012 – the day of the shooting. She also revealed that she was shocked to find out that James had used a gun. They kept none in the house and she didn't expect him to know how to use one.

"When I heard, I asked myself, 'How does he even know how to use a gun,' " she said on the stand.

Arlene was one of many character witnesses, including James' father and his sister, offered by the defense in its attempt to persuade the jury against the death penalty. Last week, the jury refused to rule it out. If jurors decide against the death penalty, James will be sentenced to life in prison.

Earlier this month, he was found guilty on all counts of first-degree murder after a day and a half of jury deliberation. James, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, stood silently showing no emotion as the verdict was announced.

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