CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The second day of the Aurora theater shooting trial and the first day of witness testimony proved to be an emotional one.
Elevated emotions during witness testimonies were to be expected, with Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour warning spectators, “the more gruesome a crime the more gruesome the evidence.”
Though emotions were elevated, they seemed to impact each witness differently.
Caleb Medley, hit with a shotgun pellet in the face during the shooting, sat in a wheelchair, capable only of pointing to letters on an alphabet board to spell out his answers.
Kaylan Bailey, just 13 at the time of the shooting, was emotionless as she listened to her frantic 911 call; monotone as she described placing her hand on the chest of her 6-year-old cousin Veronica Moser-Sullivan and feeling her stop breathing.
Others succumbed to the emotion, including Aurora first-responder Sgt. Michael Hawkins. He went from talking about knowing he was “about to enter a gunfight” to sobbing when he too described carrying Moser-Sullivan out of the theater, feeling her voiding her bowels as she breathed her last.
In their own ways, all 10 witnesses called to the stand on the day, commended on social media for their bravery and strength, gave their account of what happened on July 20, 2012.
Tuesday’s witnesses also include Caleb’s wife Katie, spouses Chi Chi and Derick Spruel, and the a family of three — spouses Angiat Mora and Rita Paulina along with their son Prodeo Patria. Prodeo Patria.
Although an emotional situation to recall, witnesses remained calm during the presentation of their accounts, for the most part.
First up, Katie Medley described her husband having brain surgery on July 22, 2012, the same day she went into a 40-hour induced labor to deliver their son Hugo, now 3 years old.
Katie cried after seeing photos of her husband Caleb’s fresh injuries, she said “there’s more blood than I remember.”
Her husband, Caleb, was wheeled into the court room in a wheel chair. A silence fell over the room — a silence only broken by Caleb’s involuntary wailing — while he was just asked three questions.
- Can you spell your name for the record?
- Are you married to Katie Medley?
- Did you go to the Century 16 movie theater In Aurora, Colorado on July 19th in 2012
Derick Spurel, who has a military background, described the three guns he heard used and the experience of breathing tear gas, a substance he was familiar with from his time in the Air Force.
After her husband’s testimony, a recording of ChiChi Spurel’s 911 call was played. Calm at first, the court heard the moment ChiChi first realized her friend Jesse Childress was dead.
“One of the guys we came here with is dead,” she told the 911 dispatcher, before breaking into tear.
Prodeo Patria was 14 years old at the time of the theater shooting. Now 16, he too was called to testify Tuesday. Shot in the back as ran for the exit, Patria remained in the theater to help others to safety. He retraced his steps in a courtroom diorama for the jury, who, as is their right in Colorado, asked questions of Patria about where he was and when.
Patria’s father, Anggiat Mora, a native of Indonesia, told the court in broken English that his family had gone to see this move as a “family time” activity. He lightened the mood in the courtroom by telling them the joke he told his wife as he carried her wounded out of the theater.
“Why are you so heavy?” he teased.
Mora’s wife is Rita Paulina, and she testified fully through an Indonesian interpreter on Tuesday. Wounded during the shooting herself, her words were not lost in translation.
“I was waiting for Batman,” she said. “And he never came.”
Sgt. Micheal Hawkins took the stand next. He said he was getting off work at the time when he first starting hearing reports of the shooting. Instead of turning in, he turned on his siren and sped over 100 mph to the scene.
He was the first to enter Theater 9. The first man he saw “had half his head blown off,” Hawkins said. He saw another shell-shocked man with a piece of metal in his face who “didn’t even know he was injured.”
When he raced out of the theater, Hawkins was carrying 6-year-old Moser-Sullivan.
“I looked down at her and realized she was … gone,” Sgt. Hawkins recollected with a shaking voice.
Finally, there was Kaylan Bailey. Now 16, she was babysitting Moser-Sullivan at the time of the shooting. As her dramatic 911 call played in the court room, Kaylan sat at the witness stand with her head down.
As a dispatcher attempted to instruct her how to perform CPR, a panicked Bailey screamed “I can’t hear you!” up until the moment police arrived.
The defense team for James Holmes, the admitted theater gunman who continued to sit emotionless in the courtroom Tuesday, was relatively inactive during witness testimony. There were no cross examinations, and only a handful of objections were raised.
One objection logged by public defender Katherine Spengler dealt with the use of the term “bloody victim” on a prosecution diagram. Spengler contested the term victim — adjective or not — could be prejudicial to the jury.
Samour overruled the objection, saying “when lay people use the term victim they don’t mean anything other than, somebody who was injured or killed.”
“The term ‘bloody victim,’ I don’t find that to be prejudicial in the context of this case. Given what other evidence the jury is presented with,” Samour said, “Having a diagram showing someone referred to as that is not unduly prejudicial.”
More witness accounts are expected through out the week.
FOX31 Denver and KDVR.com will continue to have updated coverage as this trial goes on.