Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

CRIME

Defense lawyers in Colorado theater shootings question reliability of firearms analysis

a0e54096bdb4b91c5a0f6a7067005d69.jpg

Asst. District Attorney Karen Pearson walks from district court during a pause in a hearing for James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding more than 50 in a crowded Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2013. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (The Associated Press)

Defense attorneys in the Colorado theater shooting case attacked the reliability of firearms analysis Wednesday, saying it is subjective and lacks statistics to measure its accuracy.

A state crime scientist testified at a pretrial hearing that he matched bullets and shell casings found at the theater to three weapons, apparently the ones officers seized at the scene.

The defense wants firearms analysis barred from the trial, scheduled to start Dec. 8. The judge did not say when he would rule.

James Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack at a Denver-area movie theater. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Defense lawyers have acknowledged Holmes was the shooter but continue to challenge any evidence prosecutors present.

No motive for the shootings has been revealed. Holmes' attorneys say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode at the time.

At Wednesday's hearing, Dale Higashi, a forensic scientist for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, explained how analysts examine bullets and shell casing under a microscope to identify unique markings left by the weapons that fired them.

Questioned by defense attorney Daniel King, Higashi acknowledged that different analysts can reach different conclusions about the same evidence, and that firearms analysts cannot say what the mathematical probability of a match is, the way DNA analysts can.

Higashi said one metal fragment submitted to the laboratory was lost, prompting officials to repeat all the testing. He said the final results were verified.

When he entered the courtroom, Holmes appeared to make eye contact with his parents, who were seated in the gallery. His mother nodded at him.

Bank Rates

Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 3.92% dw 3.98%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 3.04% dw 3.09%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.15% dw 4.20%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.10% dw 3.20%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.48% dw 3.51%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.32% up 4.30%  
$50K HELOC Graph 3.98% up 3.97%  
$30K Loan Graph 4.99% -- 4.99%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.34% -- 4.34%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.36% -- 4.36%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.92% dw 2.94%  
36 M Used Graph 3.46% dw 3.48%  
48 M New Graph 3.18% dw 3.19%  
48 M Used Graph 2.99% -- 2.99%  
60 M New Graph 3.18% dw 3.20%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.40% up 0.39%  
1 yr Graph 0.71% up 0.70%  
5 yr Graph 1.57% up 1.55%