Photo: AP Images
The man accused of killing 12 people during a midnight movie-theatre rampage appeared in court Monday as prosecutors began laying out all of the evidence they’ve accumulated against him.While police officers testified about James Holmes’ demeanor immediately following the shooting, the most moving testimony focused on the victims.
Aurora Police Department Officer Aaron Blue described holding aspiring broadcast journalist Jessica Ghawi as she died from her injuries.
“Every time she moved, she stopped breathing,” Blue said, according to The Denver Post’s John Ingold.
“Yes, @AuroraPD Officer Blue did pick up my sister, who had injuries that were not sustainable to life, & transported her in his car to help,” Jessica’s brother Jordan tweeted in response to Blue’s testimony. “Officer Blue gave my sister a chance that the shooter did not.”
While many victims and their families sat in a private room in the courthouse, some were randomly selected to sit in the courtroom.
Officer Justin Grizzle also talked about walking into the theatre and seeing “several bodies throughout the theatre laying motionless,” The Denver Post’s Jessica Fender tweeted from the courtroom.
Grizzle testified there were so many victims he was slipping in blood as he entered the theatre.
“After what I saw in that theatre, I didn’t want anyone else to die,” Grizzle said of his decision to drive six victims to the hospital in his car, adding there was so much blood he could hear it “sloshing around” in the back of his car.
Grizzle broke down and cried on the stand during his testimony, 9News’ Jeremy Jojola tweeted.
Holmes reportedly sat completely still during Monday’s testimony.
Holmes, who sported a full beard and brown hair, is facing more than 160 charges after he allegedly opened fire on a theatre full of people during The Dark Knight Rises midnight premiere in Aurora, Colo.
While Holmes has been appearing in court for months, Monday marked the first time the public got a glimpse of the case prosecutors have been building against him.
At the end of the week-long hearing, Judge William Sylvester will decide if there is enough evidence to go to trial.
Both prosecutors and the defence focused Monday on Holmes’ state of mind at the time of the shooting.
Aurora Police Department Officer Jason Oviatt testified Monday morning that Holmes “seemed out of it” and was “dripping with sweat” when he was arrested outside the theatre, The Denver Post’s Jessica Fender tweeted from the courtroom.
defence attorney Daniel King countered the observation by pointing out that Holmes was wearing body armour, which likely caused him to sweat, according to The Denver Post.
Cops on the scene initially mistook Holmes for a fellow police officer because he was covered in body armour, Oviatt said, adding that while Holmes said little, he was cooperative.
Holmes was “just standing there. Not doing anything. Not in any hurry. Not excited. Not urgent about anything,” Oviatt testified, according to Ingold.
However, he did show some emotion when asked about accomplices.
Grizzle testified that when he asked Holmes if there was a second shooter “he just looked at me and smiled. It was a smirk.”
During Monday’s hearing prosecutors played surveillance videos from the Century 16 theatre that showed Holmes walking into the theatre as well as staff dropping to the floor and patrons fleeing when the shooting began, The Denver Post reported Monday evening.
Holmes reportedly bought his ticket on July 8 – 12 days before the shooting.
Police testified they found two magazines, a knife, a rifle in Holmes’ car, an assault rifle by the theatre door, a rifle case in the car, a handgun on the car roof, a knife in Holmes’ belt, and other magazines falling out of Holmes’ pockets, Fender tweeted from the courtroom.
Testimony Monday afternoon reveal that at least 33 bullets were used to kill the 12 victims, Fender tweeted.
Since Holmes was arrested, many speculated he would pursue an insanity defence.
If he does, Holmes’ lawyers would have an easier time of it than defence attorneys in most states since Colorado requires the prosecution to prove the defendant’s sanity in order to disprove an insanity claim, The Atlantic Wire reported before the preliminary hearing began.
“The law is this in Colorado,” criminal defence attorney Anne Bremmer told CNN Monday morning. “The state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that James Holmes is sane … How do they prove that? That’s tough.”
In most states, the burden of proof for an insanity claim falls on the defence.
Holmes’ preliminary hearing is expected to resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. local time.
Reporters at the courthouse aren’t allowed to bring electronic devices into the courtroom but will send out updates during recesses.
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