Colorado movie massacre trial prosecution to wrap up case

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 19, 2015 12:06 PM

By Keith Coffman

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) - After eight weeks and more than 200 witnesses, prosecutors in Colorado's movie massacre trial will wrap up their case against gunman James Holmes on Friday with heart rending testimony from the mother of his youngest victim.

Partially paralyzed survivor Ashley Moser will testify in the afternoon about the day she had an ultrasound test and learned she was pregnant, then decided to take her six-year-old daughter Veronica to the movies to celebrate.

Veronica was killed in the shooting, while Moser also lost her unborn baby and suffered gunshot wounds in the neck and abdomen. She is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Holmes' public defenders had sought to stop the jury from hearing much of Moser's account. They argued that large parts of it would be unfairly prejudicial and irrelevant, since they do not contest that their client opened fire in the theater.

Holmes, 27, has stared straight ahead throughout almost all the proceedings, only occasionally turning to watch videos of himself recorded after his arrest in July 2012 for opening fire inside a packed midnight premiere of a Batman film.

The former neuroscience graduate student killed 12 people and wounded 70. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and could face the death penalty if he is convicted of multiple counts of first degree murder and attempted murder.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour has ruled that he will allow most of Moser's testimony, and will let prosecutors briefly display a photo of Veronica.

The six-year-old died after Holmes shot her several times. Throughout the trial, references to the rampage's youngest victim have often produced sobs and tears around the small, windowless court in Centennial, on the outskirts of Denver.

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Prosecutors say Holmes launched the attack using an automatic rifle, shotgun and pistol because he had lost his career, his girlfriend and his purpose in life, and that he had a longstanding "hatred of humanity."

The defendant's attorneys say he suffers from schizophrenia, that he has long heard voices in his head commanding him to kill, and that he was not in control of his actions.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists have concluded that although Holmes was seriously mentally ill, the California native was sane when he planned and carried out the attack.

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