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Testimony about Colorado massacre resumes in James Holmes hearing

January 08, 2013|By Jenny Deam and Michael Muskal
  • A sketch shows James Holmes, escorted by a deputy, arriving for a preliminary hearing in Centennial, Colo.
A sketch shows James Holmes, escorted by a deputy, arriving for a preliminary… (Bill Robles / Associated…)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Vivid testimony about the movie theater massacre that shocked a nation extended into a second day as a preliminary hearing for James E. Holmes resumed Tuesday.

Prosecutors continued to lay out their case against Holmes, 25, accused of killing 12 people and injuring about 70 during a shooting rampage on July 20 in a suburban cinema. At issue in the proceeding, expected to last a week, is whether there is a sufficient case to go to trial.

In the first day of testimony Monday, law enforcement officials described the bloody shooting scene and heartbreaking rescue attempts to bring the gravely wounded to treatment.

PHOTOS: Colorado movie theater shooting

The prosecution has been trying to show that Holmes acted deliberately while the defense in cross-examination has focused on how the former neuroscience graduate student appeared emotionally detached, bolstering their expected insanity presentation.

Throughout, Holmes has sat impassive, while some of the victims' relatives have wept during the more graphic testimony.

On Tuesday, the atmosphere at the Arapahoe County Court House contained less of the frenzy that marked the first day. Yet the proceedings come as the debate over gun control has heated up in the wake of the attack last month in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman who invaded the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman first killed his mother in their home and ended his shooting spree by killing himself.

WHO THEY WERE: Aurora theater shooting

Tuesday’s testimony also comes as the nation commemorates the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting where six died and 13 were injured when gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot where former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with her constituents. Tucson, which has had events for several days, will mark the exact time of the shooting with the ringing of bells across the city at the moment of the morning attack.

Giffords, who went through a painful recovery and rehabilitation for gun wounds to the head, has become a spokeswoman for greater gun control. She and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, announced they would raise money to support gun control efforts. The pair visited Newtown last week.

On Monday, Aurora police testified about the horrors they found in the theater, including blood-soaked aisles and walls, crumpled bodies, and scores of spent shell casings.

TIMELINE: U.S. mass shootings

The prosecution also showed surveillance video of Holmes entering the theater complex just past midnight. He had purchased his ticket 12 days earlier. The chilling, soundless video shows Holmes redeeming his ticket at a kiosk, giving it to a ticket taker, then lingering near the concession stand for a few minutes before turning toward Theater 9, where the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” was playing.

Prosecutors have yet to announce whether they will seek the death penalty.

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Deam reported from Centennial, Colo.; Muskal reported from Los Angeles. 

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