1st witnesses in Aurora theater shooting trial recount chaotic, emotional scene

Posted: 11:15 a.m. | Updated: 2 p.m.

Witnesses called on Tuesday to testify in the trial of James Holmes, the acknowledged gunman in the 2012 Aurora theater shootings, painted a scene of pain, chaos and death.

Katie Medley was the first. She's the wife of aspiring comedian Caleb Medley, who was shot in the head in the July 20, 2012, attack. She was nine months pregnant at the time of the shooting and gave birth to the couple's first child a few days later in the same hospital where her husband lay in critical condition in a medically induced coma.

Caleb Medley was the last person wounded in the shooting to be released from the hospital, about two months after the attack, and he went to long-term care facility.

Katie Medley told the jury she thought her husband was dead after he was shot in the head but then noticed he was breathing.

She said police opened the exit door and screamed for people to come outside.

She told her friend Ashley Kurz that she had to make a decision about whether to leave or stay with her husband, and she decided to leave to make sure their unborn baby — which could be the last piece of him — would survive. She said she took his hand and he squeezed it.

"I told him that I loved him and that I would take care of our baby if he didn't make it," she said.

As she and her friend left, she said she had to step over bodies on the floor and then slipped in a large amount of blood. A police officer caught her.

Medley described her husband’s condition today: "He’s still in a wheel-chair right now…working on walking. His speech is getting better but it’s taken us three years to get that far.”

'There are dead people everywhere'

Three people who lost a friend, Jesse Childress, in the 2012 attack, later testified about the chaos in the theater. 

Childress worked in communications at Buckley Air Force Base and was excited to see the "Batman" premiere the night of shooting, and bought tickets for himself and some friends, including his boss, Derick Spruel, and Spruel's wife, Chichi.

When the Spruels saw flashes and tear gas in the theater, they at first thought it was a prank and tried to keep watching the movie. Soon, they were both on the floor praying.

In a 911 call played in court, Chichi Spruel can heard pleading with a dispatcher to send help. She was still on the phone when police arrived. 

"Oh my God," Chichi Spruel says in the recording. "There are people dead everywhere."

District Attorney George Brauchler listened to the recording with his head bowed, partially covered by his hands.

Prodeo Et Patria, 17, who went to the see "The Dark Knight Rises" with his parents later told the court he was wounded in the back, and his mother was wounded in the arm and leg. They were taken to the same hospital.

Prosecutors displayed a photograph of Patria's injury, but the defense objected.

Holmes is pleading not guilty by reason of insanityBrauchler argued in opening statements Monday that Holmes' struggles with school and relationships caused him to focus on mass murder, an act he researched and prepared for over months. But defense attorneys say that the stress at school and in his personal life exacerbated Holmes' already long-standing schizophrenia.

You Made It...

...through this story! And by donating right now you can make even more stories like this one possible.

MAKE YOUR GIFT TODAY