Gun Expert Testifies in Mass Murder Hearing
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) - A firearms expert testified in court Wednesday that bullets recovered from the movie theater massacre crime scene in Aurora, Colo. were linked to guns that law enforcement believes were used by accused mass murderer James Holmes.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more during the midnight premiere of a Batman movie on July 12, 2012. He is charged with 166 felony counts, including murder.
Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty.
Wednesday was the second day of two hearings to discuss several motions on whether firearms and chemical experts will be excluded from the trial.
Prosecutors called Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Dale Higashi, a firearms and tool-mark analyst who examined evidence from the shooting, to testify on the reliability of his reports and the field of forensic firearm analysis in general.
Prosecutor Karen Pearson asked Higashi how such analyses are proven to be correct.
Higashi said his results are reviewed by someone else at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
"Any examination I perform is reviewed by another examiner," Higashi said.
Pearson asked about his involvement in the case, and his findings.
Higashi said he examined approximately 150 items from the Holmes case. He said he originally was asked to verify the results of another analyst. However, Higashi said, after the first analyst lost one piece of evidence, a piece of copper jacketing from a bullet, he was given the case.
He said that his examination showed that all of the bullets recovered from the shooting scene were linked to either a pistol, a rifle or a shotgun that law enforcement officers claim Holmes used inside the movie theater.
"There was not an item that showed up that could have fired by another gun," Higashi said.
Defense attorney Chris King tried to discount Higashi's research, arguing that firearms examinations are based on opinion and not on results produced by an instrument or based on photographic evidence.
"What you feel like doesn't sound like science to me," King said.
"No, it does not," Higashi replied.
Pearson defended the reliability of firearms analysis by asking why Higashi would not use a photo to help him with his examination.
"It cannot be taken in one single photograph; the essence is not there," Higashi replied. "You have to see it in person."
Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour did not indicate during when he would rule on the matter.
The next hearing has been set for Aug. 25.
The trial is scheduled for December.