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Aurora theater shooting: FBI analyst found 238 bullet holes and impact marks in theater

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The remodeled theater.
After four days of closed-door hearings, Aurora theater shooting defendant James Holmes was back in open court today for a session about whether FBI crime scene analysts who collected data in the theater should be allowed to offer expert testimony at his trial. Brett Mills, an FBI forensic examiner, testified that he found 238 bullet holes and "impacts" -- such as dents in objects hit by bullets -- in Theater 9 of the Aurora Century 16 theater, where a gunman killed twelve people and wounded dozens more in July 2012. Holmes's attorneys have admitted he was the gunman.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Earlier this week, Judge Carlos Samour conducted four days of non-public hearings to determine whether Holmes should undergo a second mental evaluation. The results of the first evaluation have not been publicly released. But prosecutors allege that the results contain "numerous deficiencies" and have requested that Holmes be re-examined by two out-of-state doctors.

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Judge Carlos Samour.
Samour said he expects to rule on their request within the next few weeks. A trial originally scheduled to begin in February has been postponed.

At the end of today's hearing, Holmes's defense attorneys indicated that they plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue of whether New York-based Fox News reporter Jana Winter -- who wrote a story quoting unnamed law enforcement sources as saying that a notebook Holmes mailed to a psychiatrist contained "details about how he was going to kill people" -- should have to reveal those sources in court. Holmes's attorneys subpoenaed Winter because they want to know who "leaked" her that information.

But in December, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that Winter did not have to testify because she is protected by that state's shield law. Defense attorney Tamara Brady told Samour today that the defense plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.

The main purpose of today's hearing was to debate a motion filed by the defense that seeks to exclude from trial any expert testimony regarding crime scene reconstruction.

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Jana Winter.
"Mr. Holmes objects to the admission of any and all opinion testimony concerning crime scene reconstruction, including -- but not limited to -- any blood spatter analysis and bullet trajectory analysis that the prosecution intends to introduce at trial through any 'expert' witness," the defense wrote in its motion, calling such testimony "unreliable."

Forensic examiner Mills testified that investigators analyzed the path of the bullets fired in the theater using electronic surveying equipment, 3-D computer mapping technology, lasers and so-called trajectory rods inserted into the bullet holes. He said his analysis concluded that the shots were fired from a corner of the theater near an emergency exit. At a preliminary hearing last year, investigators testified that they believe Holmes bought a ticket for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012, propped open the emergency exit in Auditorium 9, left the theater and then re-entered through the emergency exit shortly after the movie started, armed with several weapons.

The majority of the bullet holes were "indicative of high-velocity rounds," Mills said.

Another FBI expert, William McPherson, also testified today. As a "visual information specialist," he said it was his job to use a laser scanner to measure the theater in 3-D.

Defense attorney Katherine Spengler cross-examined both Mills and McPherson and tried to poke holes in their methods and conclusions. She questioned the accuracy of their equipment and technology and asked questions about certain aspects of the maps, renderings and photos they created from the data they gathered in the theater. Both men said their methods are reliable and their results are verified when possible.

They also testified that their work is based on the principles of math.

"It's the Pythagorean theorem in the flesh," McPherson said.

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes case: Doctor who did mental evaluation had "unfair bias," prosecutors say."


Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com



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25 comments
Mozart99
Mozart99

Police fired no weapons. Is that correct?

Mozart99
Mozart99

Did police fire any bullets. I am not aware of it if they did but could be wrong.

Monkey
Monkey

How many rounds were shot? I wonder why they don't tell us that?

We know he used bird-shot in his shotgun, and that can leave up to 1000 "impact marks" or "dents" with only one shot. We also know the magazine on his high velocity rifle jammed, but "The majority of the bullet holes were "indicative of high-velocity rounds"?

It does fool the Facebook people, and Donkey, into thinking a lot of rounds were fired, but technically, they could be taking about 1 pistol bullet hole, 2 rifle bullet holes, and 235 dents from bird-shot. 

Great story, if you want the stupid to jump to conclusions, but not very informative.   

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Wow! ... according to the Drooling Gun-Loon Lobby, it could have easily been 238 knife holes ... or 238 baseball bat dents ... or 238 utterly off-point inane distractions.



Malloy StaleRecords
Malloy StaleRecords

Id like to see Myth Busters try it, but I doubt the Govt would allow it.

Morganne Foster
Morganne Foster

It DOES seem strange, but I highly doubt Holmes had much previous experience shooting guns (aside from the video game variety.)

Malloy StaleRecords
Malloy StaleRecords

A movie theatre is much smaller and more confined than said combat zone.

Carlos Murillo
Carlos Murillo

No, not really. Fun fact: for every...what, 200,000 bullets fired in combat zones in the military, only 1 of those will actually hit a person? He probably unloaded plenty of rounds into the seats in general looking to spread-kill as many as he could. That's how several of the victims were injured/killed.

DuckAndRun
DuckAndRun

good thing the theatre had a no guns policy. much safer this way. wouldn't want any crazy gun owners defending themselves or others......It's just more liberal to let these shooters do their business un-hindered and then call the police afterwards.....to clean up the bodies.....

tony514
tony514

i guess holmes really is a clown


Matt Leising
Matt Leising

Can we just give him the death penalty already? Let's get this over with

Sydney Vitae
Sydney Vitae

"Mr. Holmes objects to the admission of any and all opinion testimony concerning crime scene reconstruction, including -- but not limited to -- any blood spatter analysis and bullet trajectory analysis that the prosecution intends to introduce at trial through any 'expert' witness." Funny, I object to people breaking into a movie theater to shoot at a bunch of unarmed citizens.

Monkey
Monkey

@Mozart99  Yes! 

When seconds count, police are only minutes away. The cops showed up after everything was over, and Holmes was in the parking lot, next to his car, and surrendered without incident. That's why gun-free-zones are so popular with mass murderers, they know they will be the only ones shooting. The theatre was not the closest to Holmes home, but it was the closest gun-free theatre.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  "they could be taking about 1 pistol bullet hole, 2 rifle bullet holes, and 235 dents from bird-shot. "


Yet not a single hole from a KNIFE ... or a single dent from those BASEBALL BATS the gun-loons are so fond of yammering about.



ItsTrivial
ItsTrivial

@DonkeyHotay  thank the lord the 2nd amendment isn't up for debate by lib-tard freaks. that was kinda the point when they wrote it, freak.

roymadstone236
roymadstone236

@DuckAndRun  Right.  Because another few persons firing back in a dark theater certainly would have made things safer for the patrons, and easier for the police. Dope.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Matt Leising <== drug dealing amoral scumbag.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  ... if only you were there Monkey, with your precious pistol, you could have been the hero and saved the day with a single shot ... just like on TV.





DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@ItsTrivial ... so where in the 2nd amendment does it mention concealed carry, background checks, 21-yr-old age limits, or full-automatic machine guns?

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