Theater shooting defense tries to limit survivor’s testimony
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Defense attorneys for Colorado theater shooter James Holmes want to severely limit the testimony of a woman who was paralyzed, suffered a miscarriage, and whose 6-year-old daughter died in the attack.
They say significant parts of Ashley Moser’s testimony will unfairly bias jurors because they are too heart-wrenching and emotional.
“The death of a child strikes a particular cord for a lot of jurors,” defense attorney Tamara Brady said Wednesday, listing more than 15 objections to Moser’s testimony, which is expected Friday as prosecutors rest their case. Brady asked the judge to keep Moser from discussing many of the most dramatic parts of her experience, including:
— Her excitement about her new baby and how she kept her daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, from sitting on her lap at the theater because she was pregnant.
—That she inquired about her daughter while at the hospital and later learned she had died. Doctors told her she had also lost her unborn child.
—Her 16-month stay at a rehabilitation center and how she he had to relearn many skills, such as using a spoon, coughing to clear fluid from her lungs, sitting to keep her bones strong and how to make a sandwich.
Brady also asked the judge to keep prosecutors from showing Moser a photo of Veronica. They have shown other survivors photos of their loved ones while they are on the stand.
“The point of that is so Ashley will start crying, as would any mother,” Brady said. “Everyone in this courtroom will be heartbroken. … That’s the point of showing the picture.”
Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. could rule on the request when the trial continues Thursday. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people, wounding 58 with gunfire and injuring 12 more during a midnight showing of a Batman movie on July 20, 2012.
The intimate details of Moser’s testimony are necessary to show the impact of the crime, District Attorney George Brauchler told the judge.
“It’s a reality of the situation that was created by the defendant,” he said.
Defense attorneys have sought to limit gore and emotion throughout the prosecution’s eight weeks of testimony, arguing it is a repetitive deluge that could prejudice jurors. Samour has repeatedly told jurors not to let sympathy sway their verdict.
The argument over Moser’s testimony came on a day in which jurors also heard from a second psychiatrist who briefly saw Holmes. Dr. Robert Feinstein said he went through a checklist to assess the risk that Holmes would hurt himself or others. He concluded there were no grounds to request an involuntary commitment. Feinstein is expected to return to the stand on Thursday.
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