DENVER -- As a God-fearing man, Marcus Weaver tries to accept that alleged movie theater gunman James Holmes deserves his day in court.
“But he could do us all a favor and just plead guilty,” said Weaver, one of at least 70 people injured in last July’s ambush in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed when the shooter opened fire during a during a midnight showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Weaver, 42, was in the fifth row of the dark theater when the heavily-armed assailant burst in and began firing. Weaver’s right shoulder was peppered with gunshot pellets. Rebecca Wingo, one his best friends, died in the attack.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, it’s tough,” he said with a sigh. “The noises, the sounds, it all comes back.”
Weaver is dreading the coming week when never-before-disclosed details of the case against Holmes will be made public at a long-awaited preliminary hearing.
The purpose of the hearing is for District Judge William Sylvester to determine if there is evidence to try Holmes on 166 counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Holmes, a former neuroscience doctoral student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, has been held without bond and in isolation since being arrested without resistance behind the theater minutes after the massacre.
No exact motive has been disclosed and any revealing records have been sealed since early on in the investigation. The preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to last for five days, could offer the first glimpse at detailed evidence such as search warrants, moviegoer 911 calls and crime scene images from inside the theater.
“I don’t know if it’ll be all the cards, but it sounds to me that it’ll be a meaningful amount of evidence,” said Barry Sorrels, a former prosecutor and veteran Texas criminal defense attorney.
Sorrels said the hearing will be extremely helpful to Holmes’ court-appointed attorneys.
“From a criminal defense perspective, information is like gold, the more you have the richer you are,” Sorrels said. “It doesn’t matter if it is good, bad or indifferent. You just want to know as much about what the facts of the case are as possible.”
Last week, Judge Sylvester ruled that the defense will be allowed to call two adverse witnesses to, “rebut, impeach, contradict, or clarify testimony from government witnesses, particularly on the issue of the Defendant’s mental state.” His attorneys have indicated that Holmes, 25, is mentally ill and that they will pursue an insanity defense.
“The only possible defense in a case like this where he was arrested at the scene would be insanity,” Sorrels said. “Whether or not it’s a viable option depends on the facts and circumstances of this case.”
Weaver, who is still undergoing physical and mental therapy, says he has seen and heard all he needs to know.
“It’s clear-cut if you ask me,” he said.
Weaver knows the odds of a prolonged trial are likely, but still prays against it.
“It holds all of us back who were either victims or had a loved one killed in the theater,” he said. “I wish he’d just plead guilty and move forward, so we could all move forward.”