Prosecutors wrap up emotional case in theater shooting trial
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Prosecutors in the Colorado theater shooting trial will rest their case Friday after eight weeks of testimony in which they sought to show that former neuroscience student James Holmes meticulously planned and carried out the 2012 massacre, knowing all along it was wrong.
The five-member prosecution team relied on emotional testimony from dozens of survivors, graphic photos and Holmes’ own videotaped statements to a state-appointed psychiatrist to undermine his claim that he was so mentally ill he didn’t know right from wrong at the time he killed 12 people and wounded 70.
They tried to weave a powerful story by mixing dramatic recollections of victims with technical testimony. Weapons dealers and investigators described how Holmes spent thousands of dollars to amass an arsenal of guns, ammunition, body armor and enough chemicals to rig his apartment into a potentially deadly booby trap.
Classmates at the University of Colorado-Denver, a former girlfriend, and two university psychiatrists who treated him before the shooting all testified that they knew nothing of his plans to attack a midnight showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012.
But prosecutors showed Holmes’ spiral notebook, in which he made lists of weapons he planned to buy and included detailed drawings of the suburban Aurora theater complex complete with pros and cons of attacking different auditoriums. He wrote about an “obsession to kill” he held since childhood.
“Interspersing that argument with so many victims was a reminder of the devastation that one man caused,” said Karen Steinhauser, a Denver defense attorney and former prosecutor who is not involved in the case.
Holmes’ defense said confusing musings about Holmes’ life make up a greater part of the notebook, which included the word “why” repeated over several pages.
On Friday, prosecutors plan to call one of the most grievously injured: Ashley Moser, who was paralyzed and suffered a miscarriage after the shooting and whose 6-year-old daughter, Veronica, died in the attack.
Moser will tie up a case that opened with testimony from Katie Medley, who was nine months pregnant when her husband, Caleb, was shot in the head while seated next to her. Medley spoke about her decision to leave him behind in the theater in order to save their baby. She later gave birth in the same hospital where Caleb was in a coma. He can no longer walk and has trouble talking.
In Colorado, prosecutors have the burden of proof in trying to convince the jury to reject Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. They showed jurors — over strong defense objections — nearly 21 hours of Holmes’ videotaped interviews with a state-appointed psychiatrist who concluded Holmes was seriously mentally ill but legally sane at the time of the shooting.
“There was no stone left unturned, there was no “T” uncrossed, no “I” undotted,” Steinhauser said of the prosecution’s case.
Now the four defense lawyers will begin calling their own psychiatrists and presenting other evidence to argue Holmes should be found not guilty. They plan to begin their case next Thursday.
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