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Colorado massacre: Victim's cousin says she'll always be in court

July 24, 2012|By Matt Stevens

Families of the dead and wounded from the Colorado theater massacre came to court to get a look at James E. Holmes, who authorities say killed 12 people and wounded 58 at a midnight premier of the latest Batman movie last Friday.

Jessica Watts, 28, of Aurora was one of those in court. She told The Los Angeles Times late Monday that she could remain focused and composed while sitting in the second row of the courtroom because that’s the way her cousin, who was killed in the shooting, would have wanted it.  Jonathan T. Blunk, a former member of the military, “thought very highly” of the justice system and wanted to join law enforcement, she said.

Watts held hands with a woman whose sister had died, but said she refrained from forming an impression of Holmes so she could keep her focus on her cousin and the other victims. She was the only member of her family in court.

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“We’re all in different stages of the grieving process. It’s a day-to-day rotation,” Watts said. “Some family members are very emotional one day and very solemn the next. Personally, for me, I haven’t really slept in three days.”

Watts said she got word of the shooting when friends and family called about 7 a.m. Friday  to make sure she was all right. She had been shopping Thursday night in the complex where the theater was located but had left four hours before the shootings. She saw that the parking lot was jammed and assumed there was probably a movie premiere, but said she didn’t know her cousin was going.

After that phone call, Watts said, she got a text around 1:30 p.m. from a family member asking her to “to please try and find” her cousin. The rest of the family was out of state. 

She checked with the Aurora Police Department; Blunk was not on any list of the injured.

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“It was at that point that I did look at the lady who was helping me search the database for his name, and I looked at her and I said, ‘He is not here; he is in a morgue.’ It was a very dry statement. I held out hope, but there was also a piece of me that knew. I just knew.”

Watts said she “did spend the weekend falling apart.” But when reached by phone late Monday night, her voice was steady and her words precise. She said her family has not discussed what should happen to Holmes if he is convicted and she said she has no opinion of whether prosecutors should seek the death penalty.

She said she would attend all hearings and the entire trial. She said the outpouring of support has been “tremendous,” city officials have helped the process run smoothly and, at least for now, she believes she has reached a more analytic state of mind.  

“I did make the decision this morning that I would be at every court hearing and the trial thereafter,” she said. “It’s not something I’ve discussed with anybody. It’s something I’ve chosen to do.”


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