New evidence to be revealed in Colo. theater shooting hearing

11:03 AM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes in court on Monday, July 23, 2012

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- This week will be our first look at the overwhelming evidence against Aurora Theater shooting suspect James Holmes.

A weeklong preliminary hearing, essentially a dress rehearsal for trial, will include graphic details never before revealed to the public.

Many of the details revealed this week will be brand new because of the gag order in the theater shooting case.

Survivors, families, and the media will gather at the Arapahoe County Justice Center Monday morning.

Without question there is enormous public interest in this case.

News outlets from around the country are in Colorado.

Victims' families have flown in from across the country and they expect this to be a very difficult week.

Many have never stepped foot in the courthouse or been in the same room with the suspect.

"We're all going to get through this process. It's very traumatizing," said Jessica Watts, who lost her cousin Jonathan Blunk on July 20.

Blunk is one of the 12 people who died, while 70 others were injured.

"It's almost like an extended family. We'll definitely be sitting together in court," Watts said.

Watts is trying to prepare the others who haven't been to court.

"The main shock will definitely be them seeing him for the first time," Watts said.

Another shock for the families will be the evidence revealed in court.

"[There will be] a lot more detail about that night," Watts said.

Watts says they've been told to expect video and photos from inside the theater.

"They are going to be of the wounded and of the dead," Watts said.

Watts has tried to prepare herself by reading the coroner's report, which says her cousin was shot four times with four guns, yet somehow stayed alive for 46 minutes.

9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson says families should expect many more details than are typically revealed in a preliminary hearing.

"The evidence is going to be pretty awful to listen to. I anticipate that this will be enormously traumatizing for anyone who had a loved one in that theater," Robinson said.

Robinson says both sides will lay out their strategies.

Expect the prosecution to reveal key evidence and the defense to lay the groundwork for a possible insanity plea.

"Because of the dozens and dozens of people directly affected by this shooting incident, I expect it'll be more of a mini trial," Robinson said.

Robinson says the evidence against the suspect is so strong, there's a chance he could accept a plea deal.

If that were to happen, this may be the closest to a trial these families, and all of us, will ever see.

Watts says the Arapahoe County District Attorney asked that the families not be alone this week.

"I'm going to go in there with a blank mind. It's definitely going to be emotional but I'm hoping that I'm going to get some answers," Watts said.

Watts wants answers about that night and how it played out.

Nearly six months after the shootings, this week marks a painful new chapter for these families who have already been through so much.

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