CENTENNIAL, Colo. - With jury selection scheduled to begin in January, the judge overseeing the Aurora movie theater shooting case continues to set the rules for the upcoming trial. He decided Tuesday which crime scene photos will be admissible during the trial.
With a 25-page order, District Court Judge Carlos Samour systematically worked through each of the images that the defense team sought to block. He decided to admit many, block a few, and decide on some others at a later date.
Attorneys defending James Holmes tried to argue that 215 images and several videos were inflammatory and should not be shown to jurors. Their client has pled not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others in an attack on a crowded theater on July 20, 2012.
The photos in question show the inside of the theater, inside of Holmes' car, his apartment, injured victims and several other pieces of evidence.
"Photograph 2122 depicts a victim in the hospital with her abdominal 'insides' exposed," Samour wrote. "The Court is disinclined to allow this photograph unless the prosecution establishes the proper foundation and shows that a less gruesome photograph of this victim's injuries does not exist."
Similarly, he banned photos of a bloody emergency room.
However, Samour said he would reserve his decision about the admissibility of photos of the theater, autopsies or injured victims.
However, Samour decided to allow photos of victim's arms including their tattoos or jewelry. He will also allow the photo of a skull ornament on the gear shift inside of Holmes' car, but warned that prosecutors would have to support the admission of that evidence with testimony.
He also ruled that photos of the much-debated binder notebook would be permissible, even though they show two stickers that the defense wanted to edit out.
Other photos must be blurred or edited to be admissible. For example, Samour will allow most photos of the inside of Holmes' apartment without editing but decided one photo in particular should be blurred because jurors may find a poster hanging on the refrigerator to be offensive.
Samour ruled that videos of the crime scene and recorded by bomb robots would be allowed.
"The Court reviewed the crime scene video in its entirety. To be sure, the video recording is prejudicial," Samour wrote. "However, the Court finds that it is not unfairly prejudicial. It is a video of the primary crime scene that depicts the condition of the theater immediately after the shooting, items used during the shooting, and the condition of the deceased victims when they were found by law enforcement and medical personnel."