This courtroom sketch shows James Holmes being escorted by a deputy as he arrives at a preliminary hearing in district court in Centennial, Colo., on Jan. 7.(Photo: Bill Robles, AP)
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- On Tuesday, Colorado continued to hear overwhelming
evidence against Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes.
A week-long preliminary hearing, essentially a dress rehearsal for
trial, has included graphic details never before revealed to the public.
During Tuesday's preliminary hearing, two 911 calls were played for the
The first 911 call was only 20 seconds long. The call came from a
Kevin Quinonez who was inside theater 9. During those 20 seconds, you
can hear at least 30 gunshots going off in the background.
Detective Randy Hansen recalled both phone calls for the court.
The second 911 call was a 4-minute long call made by a 13-year-old
girl. She is the cousin of Ashley Moser and Veronica Moser-Sullivan.
Veronica is a 6-year-old who passed away during the shooting. Ashley is
her mother. During this 911 call, the caller sounded desperate. The
following is a transcription of what the caller told the dispatcher:
Dispatcher: Who's been shot
Answer: My two cousins. [They are] on the floor. [They are] not breathing.
Dispatcher: I'm going to walk you through the steps. You need to start CPR
Answer: I can't
Dispatcher: We need to start CPR on your cousin
Answer: My cousin's been shot. The police are here.
The caller was frantic, saying multiple times that she could not hear the dispatcher. A few times, the caller shouted "Help me."
During the 911 call, Veronica's father, Ian Sullivan, had his eyes closed and was crying.
INSIDE HOLMES' CAR AND APARTMENT
FBI Special Agent Garrett Gumbinner is a bomb technician with the
FBI. When he took the stand, Gumbinner described clearing Holmes' car at
Holmes had put a sunshade on his windshield, according to Gumbinner,
making it difficult to see inside. There were no explosives in the car,
but police did find a handgun on the roof, another handgun in the
passenger door compartment, a ballistic neck protector, backpack rifle
containers, an iPhone shoved between the passenger and driver's seats
and vehicle deterrent spikes (otherwise known as spike sticks) on the
When investigating Holmes' apartment, police found a trip wire that
connected from the door jamb to a Thermos. The Thermos was at a
45-degree angle and full of glycerin. Police say it was set to spill
into a frying pan which was full of potassium permanganate. The intent
of that was to create a chemical reaction that would create sparks when
the trip wire was tripped.
Gumbinner showed the court photos of inside Holmes' apartment. There
were at least five jars which Holmes had described as "improvised napalm
devices." According to the testimony, Holmes used household items like
aluminum rods to make the explosive devices. Some of the explosives,
when burning, would be too hot to put out of water. Some of the jars
were full of chemicals, and others were full of bullets. There were
six-inch firework shells with three-inch shells inside filled with
smokeless powder and gas oil. If the carpet had caught fire, the
apartment could have exploded.
"Some of the reactions of these different chemicals would create a
very hot fire. Some of them would create a lot of smoke," former FBI
agent Rick Hahn told 9NEWS via Skype from his home in
California."Clearly he wanted to create a lot of chaos. He wanted to
hurt a lot of people."
According to Gumbinner, Holmes had three initiating systems in his
apartment: a trip wire, a pyrotechnic firing box and a launch-control
system. The firing box was controlled by a remote control which was
placed outside the apartment in a garbage bag.
Inside that trash bag, Holmes had also placed a boom box and a
remote-controlled car. On the boom box was a CD playing which had 49
minutes of silence and then loud music cued to play. Holmes reportedly
told police his hope was the music would start, someone passing by would
go toward the music, become interested in the remote-controlled car and
start playing with the car. At that point, since the remote control was
connected to the firing box in the apartment, it would trigger an
explosion in the apartment. Another witness later testified the car and
remote were never recovered.
"This guy clearly put in a lot of work and a lot of research into
this. He had a plan B, plan C sort of thing," Hahn said. "There were
backups to make sure to get fire, smoke and explosions."
MORE: Expert maps out James Holmes' booby-trapped apartment
HOLMES' WEAPONS PURCHASES
ATF Special Agent Steven Beggs testified on Tuesday and outlined the
number of guns and ammunition Holmes purchased from May 2012 until July
Some of the guns and ammo were purchased online, Beggs said, however
some of the explosives and other weapons were purchased in person at
various locations around the city.
He had four firearms in total: two handguns, a shotgun and a rifle in
his apartment. He had more than 6,200 rounds of ammunition.
The defense asked Beggs if there is any legal process to prevent a
"severely mentally-ill person" from purchasing the guns and ammo. Beggs
MORE: Officer: Holmes 'smirked' at me after Aurora shooting
FILING DETECTIVE TESTIMONY
Detective Craig Appel testified on Tuesday regarding what happened after police took Holmes into custody.
According to Appel, they took arrested Holmes in his boxers, T-shirt
and socks. After they took off his handcuffs, they placed paper bags
over his hands to preserve gun powder residue. Appel said Holmes started
to use his hands like they were talking puppets. At one point, Holmes
reportedly ripped a staple out of the table and tried to stick the
staple in an electric outlet.
The defense asked Appel why he did not take a blood sample from
Holmes to see if he was under the influence. They cited his pupil size,
which was very large. Appel testified he did not see extensive evidence
that Holmes was under the influence.
THE SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
Aurora Police Sgt. Fyles testified Tuesday on the scope of the
investigation. He said 444 different officers authored reports related
to the case and 56 crime technicians analysed evidence. Overall, he
testified that 1000 people worked on the case.
During the investigation, police interviewed at least 370 people from
both theater 9, where the shooting took place, and an adjacent theater.
MORE: Theater shooting victim's father: Holmes was like a robot
PRELIMINARY HEARING DAY 1
Monday marked the first day of the preliminary hearing. A couple of
the officers who took the stand on Monday got quite emotional, often
holding back tears as they described a chaotic scene with bloody victims
and a parking lot so packed that ambulances could not get access.
Appel clarified Holmes purchased his ticket to the showing on July 7,
not July 8 as was previously mentioned in Monday's testimony.
READ DAY 1 OF TESTIMONY HERE
Holmes sat motionless and silent during all the testimony.
THE PRELIMINARY HEARING
Many of the details revealed this week will be brand new because of the gag order in the theater shooting case.
Survivors, families, and the media gathered at the Arapahoe County Justice Center Monday morning.
Without question there is enormous public interest in this case. News outlets from around the country are in Colorado.
Victims' families have flown in from across the country and they expect this to be a very difficult week.
Many have never stepped foot in the courthouse or been in the same room with the suspect.
"We're all going to get through this process. It's very
traumatizing," said Jessica Watts, who lost her cousin Jonathan Blunk on
Blunk is one of the 12 people who died, while 58 others were injured.
"It's almost like an extended family. We'll definitely be sitting together in court," Watts said.
Watts is trying to prepare the others who haven't been to court.
"The main shock will definitely be them seeing him for the first time," Watts said.
Another shock for the families will be the evidence revealed in court.
"[There will be] a lot more detail about that night," Watts said.
Watts says they've been told to expect video and photos from inside the theater.
"They are going to be of the wounded and of the dead," Watts said.
Watts has tried to prepare herself by reading the coroner's report,
which says her cousin was shot four times with four guns, yet somehow
stayed alive for 46 minutes.
9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson says families should expect many
more details than are typically revealed in a preliminary hearing.
"The evidence is going to be pretty awful to listen to. I anticipate
that this will be enormously traumatizing for anyone who had a loved one
in that theater," Robinson said.
Robinson says both sides will lay out their strategies.
Expect the prosecution to reveal key evidence and the defense to lay the groundwork for a possible insanity plea.
"Because of the dozens and dozens of people directly affected by this
shooting incident, I expect it'll be more of a mini trial," Robinson
Robinson says the evidence against the suspect is so strong, there's a chance he could accept a plea deal.
If that were to happen, this may be the closest to a trial these families, and all of us, will ever see.
Watts says the Arapahoe County District Attorney asked that the families not be alone this week.
"I'm going to go in there with a blank mind. It's definitely going to
be emotional but I'm hoping that I'm going to get some answers," Watts
Watts wants answers about that night and how it played out.
Nearly six months after the shootings, this week marks a painful new
chapter for these families who have already been through so much.