CRIME

Colorado theater shooting survivors recall terror, experience catharsis in courtroom

  • In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christina Blache sits in her living room during an interview with The Associated Press, in Northglenn, Colo. Blache, who was shot through both legs with an assault rifle when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012, says that testifying in the Holmes trial has been both cathartic and re-traumatizing. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christina Blache sits in her living room during an interview with The Associated Press, in Northglenn, Colo. Blache, who was shot through both legs with an assault rifle when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012, says that testifying in the Holmes trial has been both cathartic and re-traumatizing. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christina Blache gestures to a tattoo memorializing her friends who were killed or wounded in the Aurora, Colo., theater killings, during an interview with The Associated Press at her home in Northglenn, Colo. Blache, who was shot through both legs with an assault rifle when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater in 2012, says that testifying in the Holmes trial has been both cathartic and re-traumatizing. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christina Blache gestures to a tattoo memorializing her friends who were killed or wounded in the Aurora, Colo., theater killings, during an interview with The Associated Press at her home in Northglenn, Colo. Blache, who was shot through both legs with an assault rifle when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater in 2012, says that testifying in the Holmes trial has been both cathartic and re-traumatizing. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christina Blache folds her hands on her lap, her left arm ringed with bracelets and a tattoo memorializing those who were killed or wounded in the Aurora, Colo., theater killings, during an interview with The Associated Press at her home in Northglenn, Colo. Blache, who was shot through both legs with an assault rifle when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater in 2012, says that testifying in the Holmes trial has been both cathartic and re-traumatizing. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christina Blache folds her hands on her lap, her left arm ringed with bracelets and a tattoo memorializing those who were killed or wounded in the Aurora, Colo., theater killings, during an interview with The Associated Press at her home in Northglenn, Colo. Blache, who was shot through both legs with an assault rifle when James Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theater in 2012, says that testifying in the Holmes trial has been both cathartic and re-traumatizing. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)  (The Associated Press)

For scores of Colorado theater shooting survivors, testifying in court has been a mix of catharsis and terror.

Prosecutors have called more than 144 witnesses in the first month of the death penalty trial of James Holmes, 51 of whom experienced the July 2012 attack.

Victims' advocates and prosecutors are trying to prepare them to stay composed on the stand, but that has been a difficult challenge.

Christina Blache, who survived being shot through both legs, says she was concerned about seeing Holmes for the first time. But when she tried to look him in the eye, he did not return her gaze.

Ryan Lumba chose to testify on the same day as his friend, Louis Duran, who went to the movie together. They tried to support each other as they both relived the night on the stand.