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James Holmes Trial: Survivors of Aurora Theater Shooting Describe Ordeal

One survivor, Katie Medley, told jurors that she thought the gunman was going to walk row by row and kill everyone during the July 20, 2012, shooting.
/ Source: NBC News

In a frantic 911 call made as a gunman slaughtered moviegoers inside of a packed Aurora, Colorado, theater, 13-year-old Kaylan Bailey begged for someone to come save the girl she was babysitting.

Little Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the 6-year-old daughter of Bailey's cousin's girlfriend, was unresponsive. Veronica's mother, sitting with them, had a bullet in her neck.

"I need help!" Bailey screamed to the dispatcher in the July 20, 2012, call, which was replayed for jurors Tuesday, during the second day of the trial of admitted shooter James Holmes.

But Veronica was dead — the youngest victim of the shooting spree. Her mother was paralyzed.

Bailey, now 16, was the last person to testify Tuesday, and described her initial impressions when a man clad in body armor slipped inside the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" and tossed a canister into the air.

"What I thought was originally (it was) a prank, this rocket thing shot across the theater from the right side of the theater to the left side, and then it seemed as if everyone turned their heads to see what it was," said Bailey, according to NBC affiliate KUSA.

The canister filled the theater with tear gas. Amid the confusion, survivor Katie Medley, who was nine months pregnant, dropped to the floor and wedged her body in between seats as a shield, she testified Tuesday. She looked up and saw her husband, Caleb Medley, just after a bullet had tore through his right eye socket. Blood was oozing from his face.

"I told him that I loved him and that I would take care of our baby if he didn't make it," Medley said inside the Arapahoe County Justice Center courtroom, as Holmes looked on.

Medley was convinced the shotgun-wielding shooter would walk row by row, picking off his victims. But, eventually, the terror ceased. Twelve people were dead and 70 injured by the time Holmes fled, police said.

The first-time mother would go on to give birth to a healthy son, Hugo, while Caleb was rushed to surgery.

"I had a lot of blood on my hands from Caleb and I couldn't scrub hard enough to get it off," Medley recalled after the ordeal was over.

Caleb Medley survived, although the 23-year-old's life wouldn't be the same: He lost some basic brain functions, his speech became impaired and he was largely confined to a wheelchair. On Tuesday, he was called by prosecutors to testify by pointing to letters on a poster board.

Defense attorneys said Holmes, 27, has "essentially admitted" to the murders, so there's no reason to make survivors relive their horror in the courtroom for months on end.

Repeatedly Tuesday, the defense objected to jurors being shown photographs of victims or other evidence they called inflammatory. The judge denied them, calling the evidence relevant and fair depictions of the nature of the crime.

Another chilling 911 call was played for jurors, and the woman on the phone, moviegoer Chichi Spruel, testified, "I just remember screams everywhere." She broke down when asked to elaborate, according to KUSA.

The defense hopes to focus on what was going on inside Holmes' mind, which they say was so addled by schizophrenia that his sense of right and wrong was distorted, and he lost control over his actions.

Holmes, who is being harnessed to the floor by a cable under his clothes, sat quietly Tuesday. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, he will be sentenced indefinitely to a state mental hospital. But if he is convicted on 166 charges of murder and other offenses, the jury could sentence him to death.


— Erik Ortiz

The Associated Press contributed to this report.