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Monday, January 07, 2013

Survivor of Aurora movie theater massacre makes plea to accused killer

DENVER - It has been more than five months since Marcus Weaver was physically and emotionally injured in an Aurora movie theater but life for the 42-year-old Colorado man is far from back to normal.
Weaver says he is still haunted by the night former PhD student James Holmes entered the Century 16 theater and started shooting at the crowd. He was there with a close friend to see the premiere of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
“The noises, the sounds, it all comes back,” Weaver said in a recent interview with The Lookout.
Although Weaver knows the accused mass murderer, who left 12 people dead and scores injured, is entitled to have his case tried in court, he still finds it difficult to accept.
“He could do us all a favor and just plead guilty,” said Weaver.
Holmes is scheduled to appear in court on Monday for a preliminary hearing in the case. A preliminary hearing is essentially a proceeding where the prosecution presents evidence against a defendant. The evidence presented is used to determine if the defendant should be tried for the crime that is charged. Holmes is charged with 166 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and other charges.
Authorities believe that approximately half-an-hour into the film, Holmes entered the packed theater from a side door heavily armed and wearing body armor. Suddenly, shots rang out as the gunman opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd. When the shooting finally stopped, Weaver had been wounded in the shoulder by a blast from the assailant’s shotgun and his friend, Rebecca Wingo, was dead.
From the outset of the shooting there has been much infromation and speculation surrounding the case. In addition to Holmes' refusal to cooperate with investigators, some details have already been leaked to the public. Attorneys for the alleged shooter are already attempting to have the court compel a journalist to reveal the source of the leaked information. The defense contends that the information was given in violation of a gag order issued by the court.
There were also reports of an attempted suicide by Holmes and another story alleging that Holmes told a fellow inmate that he had been the subject of a mind-control experiment that forced him to commit the murders.
These are the kinds of things that leads Weaver to believe that the case could end up taking a great deal of time to complete. Even though Holmes' attorneys are seeking a not guilty by insanity verdict, as far as Weaver is concerned, this is an open-and-shut case.
“It’s clear-cut if you ask me. It holds all of us back who were either victims or had a loved one killed in the theater,” Weaver told The Lookout. “I wish he’d just plead guilty and move forward, so we could all move forward.”
Concerning Holmes' guilt or innocence, one attorney appears to agree with at least part of Weaver's observation.
“The only possible defense in a case like this where he was arrested at the scene would be insanity... Whether or not it’s a viable option depends on the facts and circumstances of this case,” Veteran Texas defense attorney and former prosecutor Barry Sorrels also told The Lookout.
Sorrels is one of a few criminal defense attorneys in the Southwest who has successfully won a client a "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict, according to the attorney's website.
If convicted, Holmes faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole or death by lethal injection. Prosecutors have not said whether or not they intend to seek the death penalty.
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