CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Victims and family members affected by the Aurora theater shooting nearly four years ago have returned to the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial as the first civil trial began on Monday.
Twenty-eight victims’ families claim Century Theaters should have done more to prevent the mass shooting in July 2012. Gunman James Holmes opened fire in the crowded theater during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring dozens more.
The trial centers on the lack of security and lack of foresight by the theater. The victims and their families say Century Theaters should have had armed guards at the packed opening of the Batman film and an alarm that would have sounded when Holmes slipped into the darkened theater.
A representative for the plaintiffs said many of them do not have the financial means to be present for the entire trial. On Monday, eight were present. Some spoke with CBS4 and said it was overwhelming to go through the process again.
The theater said there was no way the attack could have been predicted. CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said the current environment of mass shootings may make that argument tough. Also, the theater was advised to hire extra security.
“Some of the testimony and some of the evidence should show that there was actually notice given to Cinemark with the suggestion that theaters that were going to be showing the Batman movie hire security guards for it. So there were definitely some warnings, definitely some concerns that were expressed,” said Steinhauser.
The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.
The trial is the first to come from several civil lawsuits stemming from the attack, in which Holmes was also convicted of hurting 70 people. At least 40 other victims have signed onto a similar suit against Cinemark that’s slated for trial in federal court in July. Another lawsuit accusing University of Colorado officials and Holmes’ psychiatrist of not doing enough to prevent the attack is on hold pending the other suits.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty against Holmes, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. After an emotionally grueling four-month trial, Holmes was convicted of 165 counts and sentenced in August to life in prison without parole because jurors failed to unanimously agree that he should die for his crimes.