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Prosecutors want graphic images of Colorado theater shooting kept from public view

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DENVER — Prosecutors in the Colorado theater shooting case want a judge to keep the public from seeing graphic autopsy and crime-scene photos during the trial, saying the images would traumatize the families of victims.

Prosecutors wrote in a Thursday court filing that relatives of the 12 people killed in the 2012 attack want the photos to be shown only to jurors, not to people seated in the courtroom or watching a live video feed.

They cited letters from the families begging the judge not to allow the showing of the pictures, which include images from inside the movie theater after the attack.

Defendant James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting, which also left 70 other people injured.

The parents of 24-year-old Alex Teves told the judge that allowing the public to see pictures of his body would be cruel punishment for the family.

"Please protect the visual privacy of his body, which has been reduced to a piece of evidence for this trial," Caren and Tom Teves wrote in a letter attached to the motion. "The countless lifelong burdens our family must carry from the horrific murder of our son due to the actions of the defendant is torturous enough without adding this visual element to our excruciating daily life, for the rest of our lives."

Prosecutors also argued the photos are of little value to the public.

However, Steven Zansberg, president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and a First Amendment attorney, said the public should be able to see what prosecutors are presenting as evidence in a death penalty case, even if news outlets have no intention of publishing the photos.

"If it's of significant enough interest for the jury to consider, it's of significant enough interest for the public to see it as well," he said.

Jury selection in the case is continuing, with opening statements expected late next month.

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