January 8, 2013

In Focus: Emotional testimony at hearing for massacre suspect

First responders recount the horror they encountered at the Colorado movie theater where 12 people died and dozens were wounded.

By DAN ELLIOTT The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Justin Grizzel
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Aurora Police Officer Justin Grizzle leaves court after testifying at a preliminary hearing for James Holmes at the courthouse in Centennial, Colo., on Monday.

The Associated Press

Tom Teves, Caren Teves
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Tom Teves hold hands with his wife, Caren, as they leave a preliminary hearing for James Holmes on Monday. The Teveses’ son Alex died in the shooting while protecting his girlfriend from gunfire.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

Prosecutors did not indicate why Holmes' pupils were dilated.

Oviatt said Holmes seemed "very, very relaxed" and didn't seem to have "normal emotional reactions" to things. "He seemed very detached," he said.

Holmes volunteered that his apartment had been booby trapped, the officers said.

At one point, Grizzle asked Holmes if anyone had been helping him or working with him. "He just looked at me and smiled ... like a smirk," Grizzle recalled.

Officer Aaron Blue said Holmes was fidgeting around after he and Oviatt put him in a patrol car, prompting them to stop and search Holmes again. They were worried they might have missed something because of Holmes' bulky outfit.

Inside the theater, the movie was still playing on the screen. An alarm was going off and moviegoers' cellphones rang unanswered. There was so much blood on the floor, Grizzle said, that he slipped and almost fell down.

Blue went with Jessica Ghawi, who was shot in the head, to the hospital. He said he held the head of the 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster steady in the backseat while someone else drove so she could keep breathing. She later died.

Caleb Medley was also wounded in the head, and Grizzle recalled the 23-year-old aspiring comedian struggling to breathe on the way to the hospital. Every time he thought Medley had stopped breathing, Grizzle said, he yelled at the man not to die. Medley survived, and his wife gave birth to their first baby days after the shooting.

Another man Grizzle took to the hospital kept asking where his 7-year-old daughter was. For about half of the trip, Grizzle said, he had to restrain him from jumping from the patrol car. At one point, the man opened the door and tried.

Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard recalled not finding a pulse on the youngest victim, 6-year-old, Veronica Moser-Sullivan. In talking about not finding a pulse on her, Jonsgaard had to stop talking because he was about to break down in tears.

Two pathologists testified that the victims who died were shot anywhere from one to nine times. Matthew McQuinn, 27, who dived in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets, was shot nine times.

Holmes, now 25, is charged with more than 160 counts, including murder and attempted murder. The hearing will allow the judge to determine whether the prosecution's case is strong enough to warrant a trial, but it's rare for a judge not to order a trial if a case gets this far.

Legal analysts say that evidence appears to be so strong that Holmes may well accept a plea agreement before trial.

While prosecutors have yet to decide on whether they will seek the death penalty, such a plea could get Holmes a lesser sentence, such as life in prison; help the state avoid a costly trial; and spare survivors and families of those who died from the trauma of going through a lengthy trial.

 

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Additional Photos

James Holmes
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This courtroom sketch shows accused killer James Holmes being escorted by a deputy as he arrives at a preliminary hearing at which he showed no emotion Monday.

The Associated Press

  


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