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Batman massacre survivor shot in head is saved by brain defect

A woman shot in the head during the Aurora movie theatre shooting has made an amazing recovery thanks to a brain condition she did not know she had.

Petra Anderson, was shot four times when a gunman opened fire in the 'Batman massacre'; three times in the arm and once in the head, with a pellet going through her nose, up the back of her cranium and into the back of her skull.

However, according to Miss Anderson's pastor, she survived thanks to a rare brain defect nobody knew she had, reports the Daily Mail.

Pastor Brad Strait wrote in his blog: "It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas.

"The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small “defect” in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear.

"Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.

"But in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect.

Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. "

Doctors had been worried that Miss Anderson's injuries could impair her speech, motor and cognitive abilities.

But it appears that her brain suffered very little damage and it appears she is likely to make a full recovery and is already walking and talking.

She could have lost all kinds of function (if) the bullet traversed her brain," her mother Kim Anderson told the Sacramento Bee.

"I believe that she was not only protected by God, but that she was actually prepared for it."

Wellwishers have already raised around $32,000 to aid Miss Anderson's recovery and help with the cost of medical bills. Her mother is also battling terminal breast cancer.

Meanwhile, presumed Colorado gunman James Holmes seemed unhinged Monday as he made a bizarre first appearance in court.

Holmes is accused of shooting dead 12 people and wounding 58 others at a cinema Friday in Aurora, outside Denver, as young moviegoers packed the first midnight screening of the latest Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Wearing a maroon prison jumpsuit, the 24-year-old graduate school dropout didn't speak as lawyers read out a list of accusations during the short procedural hearing at Arapahoe County District Court in the town of Centennial.

Holmes, a former PhD candidate in neuroscience, appeared unable to follow proceedings as his head bobbed up and down and he alternated between staring out wild-eyed and closing his eyes shut as if drugged or in a daze.

It was not known if he was on some kind of medication and there was no indication when the young man accused of one of America's worst-ever mass shootings might undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Holmes is expected to face 12 murder charges, 58 attempted murder charges for those he wounded, and additional charges related to his booby-trapped apartment at a second appearance next Monday when he will enter a plea.

Prosecutors expect weeks of consultations with families of the victims before deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty.

"We will want to get their input before we make any decision on that," said Arapahoe county district attorney Carol Chambers. "If the death penalty is sought, that is a very long process that impacts their lives for years."

Only one person has been executed in Colorado since 1976.

Denver attorney and legal commentator Scott Robinson said that in his view lawyers for Holmes "have little choice except to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity."

Holmes gave himself up outside the cinema, still clad in the body armor witnesses described the gunman wearing inside, but Chambers said a successful prosecution wasn't a done deal.

"It is a case where we are still looking at the enormous amount of evidence, and we would never presume it is slam dunk," she told reporters, adding that an insanity plea would make the case last a year or more.

Holmes was ordered to remain in Arapahoe County jail, where he is being held in solitary confinement, with no bail allowed.