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'Like a robot': Victims' families eye suspect, enduring wrenching testimony in theater massacre hearing

Courtesy of the Blunk family

Aurora shooting victim, Jonathan Blunk, and his children, 2-year-old Maximus and 4-year-old Hailey. Blunk's cousin, Jessica Watts, attended Monday's hearing.

As police officers fought back tears on the witness stand Monday, Sam Soudani was struck by how little James Holmes seemed to feel.

"It's like a robot," said Soundani, whose daughter, Farrah, 23, was critically wounded in the July 20 massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. "Absolutely no emotion."

Soudani was one of many victims' relatives and survivors who attended the first day of a weeklong hearing where prosecutors are laying out their case against Holmes to convince a judge there's enough evidence for a trial.

He told NBC News that he came to the courthouse to support his daughter, who is still recovering from the wounds she suffered in the bloodbath -- which claimed 12 lives and left dozens injured.

"I just wanted to hold her hand," he said.

But Farrah decided she didn’t want to see Holmes “face to face” and stayed in an overflow room while her father wept as Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard testified about futilely searching for the pulse of 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan.

"Heartbreaking," Soudani said.

James Holmes 'very relaxed' after theater massacre, officer says

Holmes, 25, a former neuroscience doctoral student, displayed no discernible reaction during the moving testimony. And Soudani said the suspect didn't even deserve his hatred.

“I don't feel anything toward him,” he said. “It's hard to explain. I mean, part of me wanted to rip his head off and part of me just couldn't care less for him."

Jessica Watts, whose cousin Jonathan Blunk was killed in the shooting, also noted that Holmes seemed "disinterested" in the proceedings.

Family members of Jonathan Blunk, one of the victims of Friday's mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., attend a prayer vigil, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Aurora, Colo.

Blunk, a military veteran and father of two, died shielding his date from the bullets. Watts said it was important for her to be at the hearing for "closure" and also to make sure the prosecution's case is strong.

She said it was "horrifying" to hear the witnesses describe the scene in the theater when they arrived.

"I can't imagine what these victims went through. Then again, I can't imagine what these first responders went through 'cause they're human beings, too," she said.

"Mainly the emotions struck me, the emotions of the officers testifying," she said. "It's very, very hard to hear."

Soudani said being in court was “agony” for him and he doesn’t think he can bear to return for any more testimony.

NBC News' Jack Chesnutt contributed to this report.

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