2nd day of hearings in theater shooting case covers ballistic evidence and evidence handling

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Evidence from the Aurora movie theater shooting case was lost by the original Colorado Bureau of Investigation examiner, according to testimony from the examiner who subsequently took over the case.

The revelation came during expert testimony on the second consecutive day of hearings in the case. Dale Higashi, a CBI forensic scientist, testified that he took over examination of firearms, casings, magazines and bullets after his predecessor, former CBI forensic analyst Alan Hammond, lost a piece of evidence. Higashi described the missing item as a piece of copper measuring 1/4 inch in diameter.

“There was a problem with Alan’s handling of the evidence,” said Higashi.

Higashi also testified that all of the 150 to 160 bullets and bullet fragments recovered from the scene he examined were linked to weapons allegedly used by the defendant, James Holmes.

"There was not an item that showed up that could've been fired by another weapon," Higashi said.

An agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified at previous hearings that Holmes purchased thousands of rounds for two Glock .22-caliber handguns, a Remington shotgun and a Smith and Wesson .223-caliber rifle.

The evidentiary hearing ended at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, with the judge saying he would rule on the attorneys' motions in the coming days.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

During the Tuesday hearing, attorneys debated a number of issues, including the trial date and whether Holmes' second sanity evaluation should be videotaped.

As a result of the hearing, the trial date was rescheduled for Dec. 8. It was previously scheduled to begin on Oct. 14, but was delayed after the psychiatrist performing the second sanity evaluation at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo requested more time to complete his examination and report.

Another point of contention during the first day of hearings was the psychiatrist's request to videotape Holmes' second sanity evaluation. District Court Judge Carlos Samour granted the second evaluation after concluding the first was incomplete and inadequate, but Holmes' lawyers do not want it to be recorded.

Samour heard arguments Tuesday morning about the videotaping request and said he will rule on the issue in the next couple days.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 25. Samour's last advice to the attorneys before the end of the hearing was, "use the time wisely."

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