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Prosecutors in the trial for admitted movie theater shooter James Holmes on Thursday gave jurors a graphic look at the carnage in the shooting spree’s aftermath, displaying photos of the victims' bodies lying among spent ammunition, popcorn and clothing.
One juror briefly turned his head after looking at one of the images shown on a courtroom video screen Thursday. Most jurors studied the photos intently but showed no emotion.
Spectators in the gallery wept. One woman left the courtroom sobbing.
It was the first time photos of the bloodshed were made public since the July 20, 2012 attack, which took place at the beginning of a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Twelve people died and 70 were injured.
James Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys acknowledge he was the shooter but say he was suffering from schizophrenia that distorted his ability to tell right from wrong, and he lost control of his actions.
Earlier Wednesday, Aurora police Officer Jason Oviatt testified that he was in a parking lot just 20 feet from James Holmes when he realized Holmes was involved in the attack.
Oviatt says he first thought Holmes was another officer because he wore a gas mask and helmet, and police had been warned to wear masks because of gas inside.
But, he says the other officers were looking for a way into the theater while Holmes was standing beside a car, looking relaxed.
"That said to me that he wasn't an officer, and given he was wearing a gas mask where gas was used during a shooting, I knew that he had to be involved in the shooting," Oviatt said, according to NBC station KUSA.
After Oviatt and another officer took Holmes into custody, they asked if there was another shooter, Oviatt said.
"It’s just me," Holmes responded, according to Oviatt.
Oviatt said Holmes answered questions from police but was acting a little vacant, later clarifying for the jury that Holmes was "not displaying any outward emotion or any outward sign of engagement of what's going on."
Survivors of the massacre and the first responders who rushed to the theater after the shooting have given testimony that was emotional at times over the last four days.
On Wednesday, police officers described how they transported many victims in cop cars amid the chaos. Aurora Police Officer Natasha Cabouet described sitting in the back of a police car as they raced to bring a badly-wounded victim, Ashley Moser, to a hospital. The officer was trying to keep Moser talking and conscious during the ride.
"It wasn’t until we got off the highway and turned off Potomac that she stopped ..." Cabouet said, breaking down into tears. "By the time we pulled into the hospital she stopped talking and she lost consciousness. And I really thought she just died there in front of me,” she said.
Moser survived, but her 6-year-old daughter, Veronica, was killed in the gunfire. Vernocia was the youngest victim. Cabouet would remain at the hospital the entire night as more and more patients arrived.
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