The first day of the Aurora shooting trial began April 27, and it set the tone for the rest of the trial. Each side—the defense and the prosecution—had the opportunity to give opening statements for two hours to explain each side of the case. Judge Carlos Samor stressed that none of the statements said during the first day were evidence, but rather a “framework or roadmap of evidence.”
The prosecution gave an intense, graphic tribunal where as the defense reiterated how James Holmes, who shot and killed 12 people and injured nearly 70 in 2012, was mentally insane and how he believed the shooting was reality.
The prosecution opened their statement with a 911 call from the night of the shooting, as well as a gruesome photo of blood stains on the pavement outside of the back door of theater nine, where Holmes entered and exited to make the attack. A Photo of blood splattered on the back of movie theater chairs was also shown.
“Through this door is horror,” said District Attorney George Brauchler, the prosecution in the Holmes case. “Through this door are bullets, blood, brains and bodies.”
There were no photos of victims shot and injured, yet. Brauchler believed that those photos should only be shown once and will be used for evidence later in the case. During the prosecution, he showed photos of each victim before the attack with a smile on their face and explained to the juror how each one of them was killed, down to how many shots were fired at them.
For two hours Brauchler showed countless emails, journal entries and text messages written by Holmes to try to prove to the jury that he planned the massacre for two and half months by collecting four guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition. ingredients to make explosives and body armor. In Holmes notebook that was collected for evidence, he stated that he “had a longstanding hatred of mankind.” He had diagrams and plans drawn out in his notebook as well, and Brauchler reiterated how long and how detailed Holmes plans were for the attack.
Brauchler also explained how two doctors, Jeff Metzner and William Reid talked to Holmes for a total of 50 hours and concluded he was not insane and he knew exactly what he was doing.
However, the defense showed a completely different side to Holmes’ story. Defense attorneys Daniel King and Katherine Spengler spoke for another two hours defending Holmes’ unstable state of mind.
The defense believes that Holmes’ mental illness, which is believed to be schizophrenia, has been an issue his whole life but was never diagnosed. Spengler showed a Holmes family tree, and two of his grandparents and an aunt suffered from a mental psychosis issue similar to Holmes’.
King also pulled out the notebook, which didn’t just have diagrams and letters about how all he wanted to do was kill. One entry that he wrote said, “We are all one unity, there’s no reason for life and death.” As well as the question “why?” written dozens of times.
The defense doesn’t believe that Holmes didn’t pull the trigger, but they do believe that his mental illness made him do it and he should not be held accountable for something he can’t control.
King and Spengler showed videos of Holmes in the hospital, in jail and even in court shortly after the shooting. In one video, Holmes was naked, running head first into the wall of his holding cell and another, where he was hiding under blankets saying there were shadows coming to get him.
“All we’re asking in this case is if you will accept the reality of mental disease,” King said.
They provided a list of the 20 doctors that Holmes visited since 2012, including one named Raquel Gur, who has treated other killers such as Theodore Kaczynski, the confessed Unabomber. Gur evaluated Holmes and believes that he is sick.
The first two witnesses spoke today, Munirah Gravelley who went to the movies that night with her friend, Jesse Childress who was killed. Gravelley explained in her testimony that she had to step over Childress’ body to save herself. Caleb Medley, who was shot at the theater and paralyzed, also testified today.
There are hundreds of witnesses that are going to be called to the stand, causing the trial to take months. In the end, the jury will have to decide whether or not Holmes should be put to death for the murders or be placed in a mental illness facility for his life due to his not guilty by reason of insanity plea.