(Corrects total number of attempted-murder charges from 116 to
140, paragraphs 5-6)
* 13-year-old pleaded for assistance for two cousins
* Dispatcher sought to tell her how to administer CPR
* Guns and ammunition purchases began two months before
By Keith Coffman
CENTENNIAL, Colo., Jan 8 A 13-year-old girl
caught in last summer's shooting rampage at a Colorado movie
theater was heard frantically pleading for help for two gravely
wounded family members in a tape of her emergency 911 call
played in court on Tuesday.
In it, the distraught girl could be heard telling an
emergency dispatcher that her 6-year-old cousin, Veronica
Moser-Sullivan, and Veronica's pregnant mother, Ashley Moser,
had been struck by gunfire. Veronica was the youngest of the 12
people killed in the attack.
"My two cousins have been shot," she cried, as the
dispatcher tried in vain to instruct the girl, whose name was
not given, on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The recording was one of two emergency calls played in court
during the second day of a preliminary hearing for the accused
25-year-old gunman, James Holmes, in which prosecutors are
seeking to persuade a judge they have enough evidence to put him
The former University of Colorado neuroscience doctoral
student is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 140
counts of attempted murder stemming from the July 20 rampage at
a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises"
in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
In addition to the 12 people who died, 58 others were
wounded by gunfire and 12 more were hurt in some other way.
Prosecutors charged Holmes with two counts for each victim - one
for commission of the crime "after deliberation" and another for
"malice manifesting extreme indifference to human life."
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether the seek the death
penalty, though the charges make Holmes eligible for it.
Should the judge order the case to proceed to trial, legal
experts believe Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of
insanity. His lawyers have said he suffers from an unspecified
mental illness and are expected to call witnesses later this
week to testify about his state of mind.
Holmes, now sporting a full beard, sat quietly and
expressionless at the defense table on Tuesday, shackled and
dressed in red prison garb, as he has through most previous
hearings in the case.
Police have testified that Holmes, who bought his movie
ticket 12 days in advance, left the screening a few minutes
after it started and re-entered Theater 9 at the Century 16
multiplex a short time later dressed in tactical body armor, a
gas mask and helmet.
Armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shotgun and pistol,
police say, he then lobbed a tear gas canister into the
auditorium and sprayed the audience with bullets.
Later, in the parking lot, he surrendered without a struggle
to the first police officers arriving on the scene and alerted
them that his apartment had been booby-trapped with explosives.
Police have described encountering a nightmarish, bloody
scene inside the darkened theater, where dozens of victims lay
sprawled across the auditorium as the Batman film continued to
play and emergency-alarm strobe lights flashed.
One officer choked up with emotion on Monday as he recounted
hunching over the lifeless body of Veronica Moser-Sullivan
trying to find her pulse. Her mother survived but was left
paralyzed from the waist down and suffered a miscarriage after
The call from their cousin was made from inside the theater
moments after the massacre.
A second call played in court by police detective Randy
Hansen was placed during the shooting. In that tape, lasting 27
seconds, the distinct pop-pop-pop sound of 30 gunshots can be
heard, though no voices are discernible.
FBI agent Garrett Gumbinner, an explosives expert, recounted
on Tuesday that Holmes matter-of-factly described for him and a
police detective after the shooting how he had elaborately
rigged his apartment with trip wires and homemade bombs.
Gumbinner said Holmes had told authorities his plan had been
for the explosives to go off as a diversion that would draw
emergency personnel to his apartment while he was carrying out
the attack on the theater a short distance away. Authorities
managed to disarm the explosives without any of them detonating.
Another federal agent, Steven Beggs of the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that Holmes
began stocking up on guns, ammunition and other gear about two
months before the shooting.
The three weapons he carried into the theater, and a pistol
found in his car, as well as nearly 6,300 rounds of ammunition
and tactical body armor, were all legally purchased from various
gun shops and online dealers, and he passed all the required
background checks, Beggs testified.
Defense lawyer Tamara Brady asked Beggs under
cross-examination if there was anything that could stop a
severely mentally ill person from purchasing body armor in
Colorado. The ATF agent replied, "No."
(Reporting by Keith Coffman and Laura Beth Coffman; Writing by
Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Cynthia Osterman)