James Holmes Trial Marked by Emotional Moments, Key Evidence
Closing arguments in the Colorado theater shooting trial start Tuesday.
— -- After 11 weeks, closing arguments in the trial of Aurora, Colorado, theater shooter James Holmes are scheduled to start Tuesday, and the jury is expected to start deliberations on Wednesday.
The admitted gunman faces 165 charges, including first degree murder, for opening fire on a crowded premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012.
He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If the jury finds him not guilty by reason of insanity, the trial will be over and he will be sent to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. If he is found guilty, there will be a month-long sentencing phase.
Here are 10 of the most notable aspects the 47-day trial.
1. OPENING STATEMENTS
On April 27, the prosecution and defense each had two hours to lay out their cases and if you weren't watching, you missed a condensed version of the 11 weeks ahead.
Prosecutor George Brauchler gave the "Star Wars" of opening statements, presenting 837 slides, playing portions of a 911 call and lifting a heavy evidence bag of ammunition to show the packed courtroom. "Through these doors," he told the jury, victims' families and media, "400 people went to be entertained and one person came to slaughter them." As he showed pictures on three courtroom monitors, he repeated one word, "Boom."
When it was his turn, public defender Dan King waved around the world's first and only glimpse of one of the most critical pieces of evidence in the case -- the killer's notebook. "When James Holmes stepped into that theater in July of 2012, he was insane," he said. As the first day of trial ended, you could hear the sobs in the courtroom and people walked out visibly shaken.
2. VICTIMS' TESTIMONY
Many of the victims who testified had severe injuries, the effects of which some will live with for the rest of their lives. The prosecution's line-up made sure that the first and last victims' stories were the most memorable. On the first day of testimony, Caleb Medley's father rolled him to the witness stand in his wheelchair. The night before the shooting, Medley did a stand-up comedy routine. Three days later, he was having brain surgery on one floor of the hospital while his first-born child was being delivered on another. Because of speech issues, he used an alphabet board and a pointer to spell his answers.
The DA's star witness, Ashley Moser, was paralyzed as well, but also suffered a miscarriage due to her injuries and was the mother of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the only child killed in the theater. Moser's tearful testimony ending the prosecution's case on a Friday afternoon had gut-wrenching impact.
3. FIRST RESPONDERS
Dozens of police officers, firefighters and medical personnel who rushed to the scene testified, some of them describing the movie still playing amidst the carnage inside the theater. Many of them described how they transported severely injured victims in their patrol cars because there weren't enough ambulances. It was heartbreaking to watch tough men in uniform break down as they described that night. Aurora police Sgt. Michael Hawkins was on the 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. swing shift when he got the call and drove 100 miles per hour to the theater. He is a big man and his voice broke as he described how Veronica Moser bled on him as he carried her tiny body out of the theater. "I realized she was probably gone," he sobbed.