CENTENNIAL | As she leaves her house everyday, Lisa Childress passes a photo of her son, Jesse, who was killed in the Aurora theater shooting.
The photo was taken during a trip to Ireland. Jesse is holding a serving of fish and chips and wearing a recently purchased Guinness shirt.
“And his thumb is up saying, ‘You can do this today, mom, face the world,’” Lisa Childress testified Monday.
The testimony came Monday during the first day of James Holmes’ formal sentencing hearing, which is expected to continue through Wednesday.
Childress was one of several relatives of the 12 people slain in the theater that night who testified Monday. Most of the testimony Monday focused on the people who were killed and the damage their deaths did to their surviving relatives, but others addressed James Holmes directly.
“He has no value to this world,” said Dave Hoover, whose nephew, A.J. Boik, was killed in the theater.
A jury already sentenced Holmes to life in prison without the possibility of parole earlier this month after they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the death penalty. In addition to the life sentence for 24 counts of murder, Holmes will be sentenced on attempted-murder charges related to the 70 people injured in the shooting who survived.
Kathleen Pourciau, whose daughter, Bonnie Kate Pourciau Zoghbi, was shot in the leg in the attack, said she doesn’t see the point to sentencing someone to more than life.
“It really is the judicial equivalent of beating a dead horse,” she said.
Pourciau said the victims didn’t get justice because Holmes wasn’t sentenced to death.
“Why do you even have the death penalty if you are not going to use it?,” she said.
Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said he disagreed with Pourciau.
He said that if he asked victims and other observes if they thought justice was served at the end of the trial but before the verdict, they would have said it was. The fair trial was justice, regardless of the sentence, he said.
“Justice was done in this case not because of the outcome, but because of the process,” he said.
Just one juror has spoken publicly about the case and she said just one juror was unwavering in her opposition to the death penalty, which lead to Holmes’ life sentence.
Robert Sullivan — whose granddaughter, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was the youngest victim — said he believed that juror lied when she told the court during jury selection that she could hand down a death sentence.
“As deceitful as he was when he planned this,” Sullivan said, “I find that reprehensible.”
Samour said that Sullivan’s comment wasn’t fair and that the jury worked hard on the case for months and their decision — regardless the outcome — should not be criticized.
Veronica’s mother, Ashley Moser, wrote a letter to the court that Deputy District Attorney Lisa Teesch-Maguire read to the judge. In it, she said Veronica was her entire world, and Holmes took that all away.
“I loved having someone to take care of, and a reason to want to get up every day,” she said.
Moser was paralyzed in the shooting and lost her unborn baby in a miscarriage.
Since the shooting, she said she can’t take care of herself and needs a nurse’s help getting ready in the morning, a process that takes about three hours anytime she wants to leave the house.
Holmes sat quietly throughout the hearing, swiveling slowly in his chair throughout. He appeared to be paying attention to the testimony but showed no emotion. Unlike during the trial, when he was allowed to wear civilian clothes to court, Holmes wore a red jail uniform and orange sandals Monday with his hands and feet shackled.