CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The officers struggled to hold back the tears as they recalled the theater shooting: discovering a 6-year-old girl without a pulse, trying to keep a wounded man from jumping out of a moving police car to go back for his 7-year-old daughter, screaming at a gunshot victim not to die.
"After I saw what I saw in the theater -- horrific -- I didn't want anyone else to die," said Officer Justin Grizzle, who ferried the wounded to the hospital.
A bearded, disheveled James Holmes, the man accused of going on the deadly rampage, didn't appear to show any emotion as Grizzle and the other officers testified yesterday in a packed courtroom as survivors and families of those who died watched quietly. A woman buried her head in her hands when an officer recalled finding the 6-year-old girl.
"He's heartless. He really is. He has no emotion. He has no feeling. I don't know anybody can live that way," Sam Soudani said of the gunman afterward. His 23-year-old daughter survived the attack.
It was the first day of a hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence to put Holmes on trial. The testimony brought back the raw emotions from the days after the July 20 attack at the suburban Denver theater that left 12 people dead and dozens wounded.
The massacre thrust the problems of gun violence and mental illness into the forefront before they receded in the ensuing months. Now, just weeks after a shooting spree at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school left 20 children and six adults dead, prosecutors are laying out their case with the nation embroiled in a debate over gun violence and mental illness.
Any new details to emerge this week -- including Holmes' mental state -- will come amid the discussion over an array of proposals, including tougher gun laws, better psychiatric care and the arming of teachers.
The hearing is the first extensive public disclosure of the evidence against Holmes. Other information has come out, including details about how he legally bought his guns in person and purchased body armor and thousands of bullets online as well as a notebook that he sent to a psychiatrist he had seen.
A district judge forbade attorneys and investigators to discuss the case publicly, and many court documents have been under seal.