AURORA | James Holmes’ former girlfriend testified briefly Wednesday in the Aurora theater shooting trial, marking the first time jurors heard from someone who knew Holmes well in the months before the shootings.
Gargi Datta, who dated Holmes while the pair were graduate students at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2011 and 2012, referred to Holmes as “the defendant” several times during her testimony. She said she broke up with him sometime in late February 2012 because she didn’t see a future with him.
Datta said her first date with Holmes was an October 2011 trip to a horror movie festival in Denver. She largely agreed with what other people who knew Holmes have testified thus far: that he was very reserved at school and shy.
“He was pretty shy and closed off at school,” she said, adding that Holmes rarely approached people to initiate conversation.
In a smaller group, Holmes was still shy but was more forthcoming, she said, but he was more open to talking when it was just the two of them.
Datta’s testimony is expected to continue Thursday when prosecutors introduce an instant-message session between the two where Holmes talks about wanting to kill people.
Jurors also Wednesday heard testimony from a survivor who was in the theater the night of the shooting.
Patricia Rohrs, who was at the Aurora Century 16 theater that night with her boyfriend, 4-year-old son and 4-month-old daughter, was wounded in the leg by shrapnel in the shooting.
The trial, which enters its 30th day Thursday, saw testimony from victims every day until last week, when prosecutors shifted their focus to the psychiatrists who interviewed defendant Holmes.
Rohrs testified that after the shooting started, she lost contact with her son and now-husband, Jamie Rohrs. She said she ducked down and covered her infant daughter, but was worried she would be shot anyway.
“I tried to stay low but I was still in my head thinking I needed to get out of here,” she said.
When the shooting slowed, Rohrs said she was able to grab her children with the help of another survivor, Jerrell Brooks, and flee out a door in the back of the theater.
The jury also were shown selfies that Holmes snapped with his arsenal before the shootings, including shots of him grinning while holding bombs and scowling with an assault rifle.
In most of the images, pulled from Holmes’ iPhone by police after the shootings, Holmes is wearing contact lenses that turn his entire eye black.
Other pictures show bombs on the floor of Holmes’ apartment, an electronic ignition system to set the bombs off, and Holmes’ guns, ammunition and body armor laid out on his bed.
Aurora police Detective Gordon Madonna, a computer forensics expert, also testified that police pulled information from the phone about Holmes’ calls and text messages. Holmes’ last call went out at about 12:30 a.m. July 20, just minutes before he opened fire inside the theater, killing 12 and wounding 70 others.
Holmes told a psychiatrist he made that call to his therapist while he was donning body armor outside the theater.
Other witnesses Wednesday were a Colorado Bureau of Investigation forensic expert who testified about the weapons used in the shooting and a FedEx employee who helped Holmes receive a package in July 2012.
Michael Dobersen, the former Arapahoe County coroner who conducted six of the autopsies after the shooting, also testified. Dobersen detailed how the victims died and showed graphic pictures of the injuries to the jury.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.