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Jan. 8, 2013 at 8:05 AM   |   Comments

Day 2 of Colo. theater shooting hearing

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The hearing to determine whether James Holmes will stand trial for the deadly Aurora, Colo., theater shooting entered its second day Tuesday.

During the first day of the hearing Monday, Chief Judge William Sylvester saw veteran police officers break down as they described the horror of the scene and watched a surveillance video from the site.

Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons violations for the July 20 shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 others. He is being held in Centennial, Colo. Holmes has yet to enter a plea.

The video from the shooting scene showed employees at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora drop to the floor and dozens of people rushing to exit the theater, The Denver Post reported.

It also showed Holmes walking into the theater, wearing a long-sleeved shirt, dark pants and a dark beanie stocking cap.

Aurora Police Detective Matthew Ingui testified witnesses described Holmes as "very calm and moving with purpose" inside the theater.

Two officers teared up as they recounted the details of the shooting, ABC News reported.

Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard took a second to compose himself after describing finding the body of 6-year-old Veronica Moser Sullivan inside the theater.

Officer Justin Grizzle testified that when he arrived, paramedics had not yet made it to the theater, so he began taking victims to the hospital in his squad car.

"I knew I needed to get them to the hospital now," Grizzle said, tearing up. "I didn't want anyone else to die."


Bloomberg helping Joe Biden on gun control

NEW YORK, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken gun-control advocate, confirmed he is advising Vice President Joe Biden's team seeking to curb U.S. gun violence.

"What we've got to do first is try to do everything we can to help Joe Biden," Bloomberg said in a news conference in New York. "We sent some of the people down to Washington, and we had some people on the phone to give Joe Biden our ideas."

Bloomberg, who plans an advertising campaign for stricter gun-control laws featuring Hollywood stars, told reporters he wanted to see criminal background checks on all gun sales, not just at gun dealers.

He said he also sought better enforcement of existing checks.

"The whole thing takes about 90 seconds," CNN quoted Bloomberg as saying Monday. "You type in the name, you hit the 'Go' button and bang, back it comes and says 'yes' or 'no.'

"Costs next to nothing," he said. "It would be very easy for private transactions."


Naseer pleads not guilty to NYC bomb plot

NEW YORK, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A Pakistani man accused of plotting terror attacks in England and the United States pled not guilty in New York Monday to plotting to bomb the city's subway.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie ordered Abid Naseer, 26, held without bail after his appearance in federal court, Voice of America reported.

Naseer's court-appointed attorney, Steven Brounstein, entered the not guilty plea on behalf of his client and declined to answer questions from the press.

Naseer was indicted in November 2010 in Brooklyn on a charge of providing material support for al-Qaida. The indictment was part of a larger case involving three men who were convicted of plotting to blow up New York subways during rush hour.

Britain extradited Naseer last week. His next court date was set for March 7.


Church warns Caracas not to alter charter

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Catholic Church of Venezuela said it would be "morally unacceptable" for Caracas to alter the constitution because of President Hugo Chavez's health.

"At stake are the good of the country and the defense of ethics. To alter the constitution to attain a political objective is morally unacceptable," the Venezuelan Bishops Conference said in a statement read by conference President Bishop Diego Padron.

The constitution is clear the current presidential term is to end and a new one is to begin Thursday, the bishops said.

The bishops added Chavez's extended illness put "at grave risk the political and social stability of the nation."

The stability is made worse, the bishops said, because "the government has not told the people the whole truth [about Chavez's condition], which they have the full right to receive with certitude; it has only communicated, with evident difficulty, its political truth."

The bishops' statement was seen by those in the opposition as supporting their arguments that if Chavez -- who won election to a fourth term Oct. 7 but is battling a "severe" respiratory infection after Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Cuba -- cannot be sworn in Thursday, then National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello should become interim president.


Afghan army gunman kills British soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A British soldier was shot and killed by an Afghan army gunman in Helmand province, Afghan defense officials said.

Officials said the gunman shot at Afghan troops then fired on British soldiers before he was killed Monday, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The British soldier, a member of the 28 Engineer Regiment attached to the 21 Engineer Regiment, died at Patrol Base Hazrat in the Nahr-e Saraj district, officials said.

"This is an extremely sad day for the Corps of Royal Engineers and everyone serving with Task Force Helmand," said Maj. Laurence Roche, a task force spokesman. "Our thoughts are with the soldier's family and friends at this time."

Taliban militants said they were behind the shooting and the attacker was their agent, a claim Afghan officials dispute.

Afghan defense officials told the BBC preliminary information indicated the gunman was a soldier from Laghman province.

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