Colorado movie massacre jurors handle guns, gear used by Holmes

Reuters News
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Posted: May 07, 2015 5:36 PM

By Keith Coffman

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) - Jurors in Colorado's movie massacre trial handled firearms, a helmet and piles of protective anti-ballistic clothing on Thursday that gunman James Holmes used when he killed 12 people at a midnight premiere of a Batman film in July 2012.

Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of first degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire on moviegoers at a multiplex in the Denver suburb of Aurora, also wounding 70 victims.

His trial began last week, and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty if the former neuroscience graduate student is convicted.

Holmes was arrested at the scene of the rampage dressed in a gas mask, helmet and body armor. Prosecutors introduced most of that gear as evidence on Thursday, slowly building a pile of white bags on a table that almost hid the court reporter behind it.

Jurors studied the items, handing them around in the plastic bags. They included black tactical clothing, a stun gun, several ammunition magazines, a semiautomatic rifle and two Glock pistols that police found inside and on top of Holmes' white Hyundai sedan parked behind the theater that night, one of them fitted with a laser sight.

Prosecutors said Holmes, who was also armed with a shotgun and tear gas canisters, had a "longstanding hatred of mankind," and that he carried out the massacre because he had lost his career, girlfriend and purpose in life.

Holmes' public defenders say he suffers from schizophrenia, has long heard voices commanding him to kill, and that he was not in control of his actions when he plotted and carried out the mass shooting.

The court also heard on Thursday from an executive from a company called Action Target, who told the jury of 19 women and five men that Holmes bought hundreds of paper targets for use on shooting ranges, including ones showing human shapes in "aggressive" and "threatening" stances.

Just weeks before the attack, Holmes dropped out of a doctoral program at the graduate school of the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus.

UC professors called by the prosecution this week recalled a quiet, polite but awkward student who lacked motivation in his lab work and did not stand out.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour has said he expects the trial to last four or five months.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and David Gregorio)