VOICES: Families of Colo. Theater Shooting Victims Speak - NBC Connecticut
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VOICES: Families of Colo. Theater Shooting Victims Speak

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    Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre massacre, talk with members of the media and display a T-shirt memorializing the twelve people killed in the attack, outside the Arapahoe County District Court following the day of closing arguments in the trial of theater shootings defendant James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday July 14, 2015.

    Families of the 12 killed in the 2012 Colorado theater shooting testified in the sentencing phase of gunman James Holmes's trial. The testimony, the first time the relatives have taken the stand, is part of prosecutors' final push to have Holmes sentenced to death.

    Click here for the latest on the trial.

    Wednesday, Aug. 5

    Ashley Moser

    The mother of Holmes's youngest victim told the court she doesn't know who she is anymore.

    Ashley Moser was at the movie with her daughter, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, and was paralyzed and lost her unborn baby in the July 2012 attack.

    Speaking in a wheelchair, she testified Wednesday that being a mother is all she knew how to be in her adult life. She was 18 when she had Veronica.

    Caren Teves

    The mother of a 24-year-old man killed in the shooting says she misses everything about her son and is petrified she will someday forget the sound of his laughter.

    Caren Teves says son Alex Teves — who recently had gotten a masters' degree in counseling and psychology — was fierce but kind and caring and connected with the special-needs children he worked with.

    Teves and her husband, Tom, where vacationing in Hawaii when they got a call in the middle of the night about the shooting. They had planned to retire there, but she says she can't go back now.

    Jerri Jackson

    The mother of a 27-year-old man who died protecting his girlfriend in the shooting says she vowed to help take care of the woman her son planned to marry.

    Jerri Jackson testified Wednesday that her son Matt McQuinn's girlfriend was so devastated that she couldn't go out in public for three months. Samantha Yowler also was wounded in the 2012 attack.

    Jackson says she has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression and takes four kinds of medication to help her sleep and prevent nightmares. She went back to work as a claims analyst at a trucking company but left after two weeks, unable to handle the stress.

    Cierra Cowden

    The oldest person killed in the shooting went to the midnight Batman premiere with two of his daughters after teasing them that he had gotten tickets to the Disney movie "Brave" instead.

    Cierra Cowden remembered her father, 51-year-old Gordon Cowden as a charming and patient man who watched over his children. Once, fully clothed, he jumped into a pool to save one of his daughters who had been pretending to drown as part of a game.

    Cierra Cowden, a 19-year-old University of Colorado student, testified Wednesday that her sister felt so bad that he jumped back in and swam around to make her feel better.

    Tuesday, Aug. 4

    Sandy Phillips

    The mother of an aspiring sports journalist who was killed in the Colorado theater shooting says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has cried every day since the attack and probably always will.

    Sandy Phillips testified Tuesday that just before the shooting, she exchanged texts with her daughter, 24-year-old Jessica Ghawi, who she planned to visit in Colorado the following week. Phillips said her daughter texted "I need my mama," to which she responded "I need my baby girl."

    About 20 minutes later, Phillips said she received a call from one of her daughter's friends from inside the theater, saying there had been a shooting and that he had tried to save Ghawi's life.

    Fighting back tears Tuesday, Phillips said she could hear screaming in the background. Her husband caught her as she slid to the floor when she learned of her daughter's death.

    Since the July 20, 2012, attack that killed 12 people and injured 70 others, Phillips said her husband takes care of her because she is not the same person she used to be.

    She said she misses her daughter's constant texts and photos, but "most of all just her love. ... The way she loved her friends and her family."

    Chantel Blunk

    The wife of a Navy veteran who was among 12 people killed remembers crying and punching holes in her closet when she found out her husband was among the dead.

    Chantel Blunk testified Tuesday that Jonathan Blunk, who she called "hubby," tried to be the best dad and always wanted his kids to look up to him as a super hero.

    Chantel Blunk said that soon after the July 20, 2012 attack, the couple's kindergarten-aged daughter refused to leave her side because she thought her mom would die like her father.

    Jonathan Blunk served three tours of duty in the Middle East. He was 26 when he was killed, and friends said he had plans to become a Navy SEAL.

    Kathleen Larimer

    The mother of a Navy sailor who was killed in the attack says she doesn't think she will ever take a family photo again because "it just jumps out at you who's missing."

    Kathleen Larimer testified Tuesday that her son, John Larimer, had a smile that would light up a room, adding that "it wasn't because of the thousands of dollars of orthodonture. ... It was just amazing."

    She remembered her son, who was 27 when he was killed in the July 2012 attack, as a man who had a strong sense of right and wrong. She said that when he was in high school, he played a reporter in "The Laramie Project," a play about the 1998 murder of a gay University of Wyoming student.

    He also wrote a letter to the editor encouraging people to promote diversity.

    Larimer was based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, where he was a cryptologic technician. He grew up in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Illinois, and was the youngest of five siblings.

    Amanda Medek

    The sister of a 23-year-old community college student killed says the attack turned her into an only child, left her parents struggling with depression and anger, and kept her away from the movies.

    Amanda Medek testified Tuesday that her loving younger sister, Micayla Medek, was her "grounding force." She says she selfishly misses having someone to talk to who knows her like only a sister could.

    Her sister was killed on their grandmother's birthday. Medek says the family is still close and celebrates each other's lives but says celebrations are dulled and limited.

    Medek's testimony came as prosecutors made their final push to have gunman James Holmes sentenced to death. 

    Alex Sullivan

    The father of theater shooting victim Alex Sullivan says his son was also his best friend who joined him everywhere, from Super Bowl trips to U2 concerts.

    Alex Sullivan was killed while celebrating his 27th birthday and wedding anniversary in the July 2012 attack. Since then, Tom Sullivan says his friends and their adult sons leave an empty seat and a glass of Jameson whiskey for Alex on an annual trip to Las Vegas.

    Speaking in a shaky voice, the retired postal worker testified Tuesday that his son was "maybe every father's dream."

    Robert Wingo

    The ex-husband of a former Air Force linguist killed in the shooting says the 2012 attack left his daughters without a fearless, intelligent and strong-willed role model in their lives.

    Robert Wingo testified Tuesday that 32-year-old Rebecca Wingo was a "fun mom" who didn't hover over her girls, now entering the third and eighth grades, but encouraged them to explore and be confident.

    He says she would always have music on and sometimes served ice cream for dinner.

    His testimony came as prosecutors make their final push to have gunman James Holmes sentenced to death.

    Jurors could still vote for a life sentence or one could be imposed if they all can't agree on the death penalty.