Prosecution Rests In Aurora Theater Shooting Trial

June 19, 2015
Photo: Prosecutor George Brauchler, district attorney of Arapahoe County
In this December 2014 file photo, George Brauchler, left, district attorney of Arapahoe County, Colo., walks to a hearing in Centennial, Colo., in the murder trial of Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes. 

The prosecution rested its case Friday in the Aurora Theater shooting trial in much the same way as it began two months ago, with jurors hearing emotional testimony from someone in the theater when the attack began.

James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in killing 12 people and wounding 70 more in the attack.

The last witness called by District Attorney George Braucher was Ashley Moser, who was paralyzed when a bullet hit her spine during the attack in 2012. Just hours earlier, she had discovered she was pregnant. To celebrate, she ordered pizza for the family and they decided to go see a movie.

When she got there, her 6-year-old daughter Veronica was sitting on her lap.  Brauchler asked why Moser moved Veronica to the seat next to her.

“‘Cause I just found out I was pregnant, and it just kind of hurt my stomach a little, and she was a very tall, boney child, so I had her moved to the seat next to me,” Moser said.

While she watched the movie she heard an explosion.  Then there was gas in the air.  Moser thought it was a stink bomb.  Then she saw flashes, and thought they were fireworks.  She decided to get out, grabbed her daughter's hand, and it was lifeless.

“As soon as I stood up, I just remember getting hit in my chest, and I remember falling and landing on top of her,” Moser said.

Veronica was dead.

Brauchler kept up the questions, becoming emotional several times himself for the first time since the trial began.

“Could you feel her breathing?” Brauchler asked.

“No,” Moser said.

“Could you get off of her?”

“No. I tried, but I couldn’t move.”

Moser was paralyzed from the neck down; she’d been shot three times.  One bullet lodged in her spine.  Another exited her chest.

In one surgery, doctors had to remove a piece of her damaged lung.

In the hospital she was told she had miscarried her unborn baby.

After months of therapy, Moser regained control of her arms.  But she still can’t walk.

When she finished her testimony, the courtroom was tense, and Judge Carlos Samour turned his attention to Brauchler.

“Call your next witness please Mr. Brauchler,” he said.

“Your honor, the people of the state of Colorado rest,” Brauchler replied.

With the testimony of more than 200 witnesses complete, the state’s case was done.

Former prosecutor Karen Steinhauser is following the trial.  She said the prosecution alternated the emotional and the mundane, “interspersing different victims throughout the course of this trial as a reminder of what happened and also a way of not having the jurors hear all of it in the beginning.”

“The rest is just science,” Steinhauser said.

The prosecution has controlled the narrative for the last two months, and the case is tipping in their favor, as it should. But now the defense gets its shot to call witnesses.

“We’ve only heard, really, one side,” Steinhauser said.