CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4)– The prosecution wrapped up in the Aurora theater shooting trial on Friday afternoon. CBS4’s legal analyst reflected on the events of the past eight weeks and looked ahead to what can be expected next in the trial.
Karen Steinhauser, a Denver defense attorney and former prosecutor who also is CBS4’s legal analyst, talked about the strategy of the prosecution and how the defense may take the case on CBS4 Morning News Friday.
She talked about why the trial is moving along faster than originally thought.
“We have to be careful about saying that we are getting closer to the end. What will happen now once the prosecution has rested is the defense will put on their case and that’s expected to last a couple of weeks. And after the defense is done with their case, the prosecution will have another chance to put on any rebuttal witnesses. Those could be witnesses having to do with, again, the mental state of the defendant. After closing arguments are done, if the jury comes back with a first-degree murder verdict, then we are looking at a lengthy period of time for the death penalty phase,” said Steinhauser. “We still have a ways to go.
“The judge is going to overestimate the amount of time for the jurors so they don’t get into a situation where they’ve told the jurors, it’s going to be done sooner rather than later and jurors have made plans and have issues as far as being able to remain on the jury.”
On Friday, the mother of the youngest victim in the shooting, Ashley Moser, was called as the prosecution’s last witness. Moser was paralyzed and suffered a miscarriage in the attack. Her 6-year-old daughter, Veronica, was killed.
Moser came to the witness stand in a motorized wheelchair. She described hearing what she thought were kids setting off fireworks in the theater, and wanting to leave. She reached for her daughter’s hand, but it slipped away.
Moser then recalled standing up and getting hit in the chest. “I remember falling and landing on her,” she said.
Moser was not allowed to tell the jury her last words to her daughter.
Steinhauser explained why, “There are rules of evidence that say certain types of evidence are relevant, should be allowed in and there has to be balancing and we have to look at what is relevant, what’s going to be helpful to the jury deciding this case versus what things may be so overly emotional and prejudicial that could cause the jurors to perhaps rest their verdict on something other than the facts and the evidence.
“It’s difficult in this case because there is so much emotion. there is, you know, so many horrific stories of survivors, of people who lost others. But the bottom line is the judge has to ensure that the trial is fair to both sides and that the jurors really do base their decision just on the evidence presented, the testimony and not the emotional piece of this and it’s hard for jurors to do,” said Steinhauser.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the July 20, 2012 shooting that left 12 dead and dozens of others injured.