iStock/Thinkstock(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — A woman who was nine months pregnant on the night of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, took the stand Tuesday as the first witness in the trial, recalling in chilling detail how she had to make an agonizing decision when she saw that her husband was gravely injured.
Katie Medley said that she and her friend Ashley ducked to the ground when she saw the shooter come into the theater but couldn’t understand why her husband Caleb was sitting up in his seat as shots were being fired.
“I looked up and … that’s when I saw blood pouring from his face and I knew he had been shot in the head,” Medley testified in Arapahoe County Court Tuesday morning. “I remember he wasn’t breathing and I told Ashley ‘Caleb’s dead, he’s dead, he’s been shot in the head.'”
Caleb Medley survived the gunshot, but he was gravely injured.
After Katie Medley testified for roughly an hour, Caleb Medley was called to testify from his wheelchair. His speech was seriously impaired due to the shooting and he used an alphabet board and interpreter to answer questions from the attorneys.
He was asked just three questions from prosecutors — his name, the fact that he is married to Katie Medley, and whether he was at the theater on the night of the shooting — before being released from the stand. The defense did not have any questions for either of the Medleys.
Katie Medley used her time on the stand to detail the shooting and the months of operations and rehabilitation that her husband had to go through.
Some of the most chilling moments came when she described how she saw the shooter, now known to be James Holmes, who is facing the death penalty for the attack, throw two canisters into the air from the side door and then start shooting while wearing a mask and a Kevlar vest, which she thought made him look “like a SWAT officer.”
After the initial string of shots and when she was crouching down on the floor, she said she saw him walk past her row and thought that he may have left the theater.
“I decided to slowly stand up and I saw that Caleb was actually breathing. … He was choking on all of his blood,” Katie Medley said.
She described how she poured a bottle of water on his face to try to clear the blood but had to make a heartbreaking decision when police officers started shouting at her to leave the theater.
“I told Ashley that we had to make a decision, that we had to stay or go but because I was so pregnant I had to,” Medley said, adding how she thought her baby was “going to be the last piece of him to survive.”
Medley testified that she slipped in the blood on the floor as she ran out of the theater. The next time she saw her husband was when she was sitting on the curb outside the theater and first responders brought him out to be treated.
“I could see that he was still bleeding but they had to lay him on his face because of all the blood that was pouring because they didn’t want him to aspirate,” Medley said.
“One of the hardest things I ever had to do was calling my parents and Caleb’s parents,” she said. “They were all expecting me to call to say I was in labor and instead I got to tell them all that Caleb had been shot and was probably dead.”
He was rushed to a hospital and she went to the same hospital later to be checked out since she felt that something had nicked her during the shooting but she was fine. Prior to the attack, she was scheduled to be induced two days after the shooting and they followed through with that timeline, though her labor took up to 40 hours.
While she was in labor, Caleb was in his third brain surgery, she said, noting that he first held their son Hugo, who is now 3 years old, was while he was in a medically induced coma that lasted nearly a month.
Katie Medley said that her husband can understand everything anyone says but he has great difficulty communicating back. One of the shotgun pellets went through his right eye and damaged the right side of his brain that has impaired his speech as well as the strength of his left side, she said. He lost his eye and uses a wheelchair.
Tuesday marked the second day of the trial against Holmes. He is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others during the July 2012 attack.
During the opening statements on Monday, Holmes’ defense team admitted that he was responsible for the attack but entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. If he is found not guilty on those grounds, he would be committed indefinitely to a state mental institution. But if he were later deemed sane, he could, theoretically, be released, though legal experts say that is unlikely.
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