A veteran police officer got choked up on the stand in Colorado today as he testified about the moment he carried a 6-year-old victim out of the Aurora movie theater after the July 2012 shooting.
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Sgt. Michael Hawkins was one of the 10 witnesses who testified in court today as part of the trial against shooter James Holmes, who faces the death penalty for killing 12, the youngest of whom was Veronica Moser-Sullivan.
"At the point that I was running out with her, I became aware of her bleeding all over me ... and I looked down at her and I realized that she was probably gone,” Hawkins said, pausing because he was overcome with emotion.
The court also heard the 911 call made by Kaylin Bailey, who was 13 at the time of the shooting and had babysat Veronica earlier in the day. Bailey is heard crying as the operator tries to walk her through CPR, but she told the court that she wasn’t able to get to Veronica because the girl’s pregnant mother was covering the child.
Veronica Moser-Sullivan died as a result of the shooting, and her mother Ashley Moser was paralyzed from the waist down and miscarried.
Today marked the second day of the Holmes trial with the prosecution calling Hawkins and nine survivors to the stand, many telling how at first they thought the canister they saw flying across the movie theater was part of a prank.
The first witness to take the stand was Katie Medley, a nine-months pregnant woman who went to the midnight showing of the Batman movie with her husband Caleb and friend Ashley. After the initial string of shots and when she was crouching down on the floor, she said she saw him walk past her row and thought that he may have left the theater.
"I decided to slowly stand up and I saw that Caleb was actually breathing. ... He was choking on all of his blood," Katie Medley said, telling how she tried clearing the blood with a bottle of water before police told them to get out.
"I told Ashley that we had to make a decision, that we had to stay or go but because I was so pregnant I had to," Medley said, adding how she thought her baby was "going to be the last piece of him to survive."
"One of the hardest things I ever had to do was calling my parents and Caleb's parents," she said. "They were all expecting me to call to say I was in labor and instead I got to tell them all that Caleb had been shot and was probably dead."
Katie Medley was scheduled to be induced into labor on what would have been two days after the shooting, and doctors followed through with that timeline, though her labor took up to 40 hours.
While she was in labor, Caleb was in his third brain surgery, she said, noting that he first held their son Hugo, who is now 3 years old, was while he was in a medically induced coma that lasted nearly a month.
Katie Medley said that her husband can understand everything anyone says but he has great difficulty communicating back. One of the shotgun pellets went through his right eye and damaged the right side of his brain that has impaired his speech as well as the strength of his left side, she said. He lost his eye and uses a wheelchair.
Holmes was in court but remained expressionless throughout. During the opening statements on Monday, Holmes' defense team admitted that he was responsible for the attack but entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. If he is found not guilty on those grounds, he would be committed indefinitely to a state mental institution.
But if he were later deemed sane, he could, theoretically, be released, though legal experts say that is unlikely.