Friday 30 September 2016

Batman cinema shooting: Jurors will consider death penalty for James Holmes

Published 23/07/2015 | 22:25

FILE - This June 4, 2013 file photo shows Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes in court in Centennial, Colo. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - This June 4, 2013 file photo shows Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes in court in Centennial, Colo. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP, Pool, File)
James Holmes (L) stands in court as the verdict is read in this still image taken from video in Denver, Colorado, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Pool
A general view of the newly revamped movie theater where 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage at a Batman film in July 2012 in Aurora, Colorado in a January 17, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/files
Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes makes his first court appearance in Aurora, Colorado, in a July 23, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/RJ Sangosti/Pool

The jurors who convicted James Holmes of murder over the Colorado cinema shooting have unanimously decided that they can consider the death penalty in his sentencing.

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They said capital punishment is justified because Holmes murdered a large number of victims; caused a grave risk of death to others; committed murder in a heinous, cruel or depraved manner; and laid in wait or ambush.

One factor jurors said prosecutors did not prove was that Holmes intentionally killed a child, but the other "aggravating factors" ensure that jurors will continue to consider whether he should die for his crimes.

Prosecutors must still clear two more hurdles before Holmes can be sentenced to die.

James Holmes (L) stands in court as the verdict is read in this still image taken from video in Denver, Colorado, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Pool
James Holmes (L) stands in court as the verdict is read in this still image taken from video in Denver, Colorado, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Pool

Prosecutors said Holmes wanted to murder as many as he could in the audience of more than 400 people but failed to kill more than 12 because his assault rifle jammed. The defence offered no counterargument in this first phase of his sentencing.

The defence will now lead the next phase, trying to show that his mental illness and other "mitigating factors" make it wrong to execute him in any case. Jurors will then deliberate for a second time, deciding whether the extent of his mental problems outweighs the lifelong suffering Holmes caused.

A general view of the newly revamped movie theater where 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage at a Batman film in July 2012 in Aurora, Colorado in a January 17, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/files
A general view of the newly revamped movie theater where 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage at a Batman film in July 2012 in Aurora, Colorado in a January 17, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/files

If so, the trial would end there, with a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

If not, the sentencing will move into a third and final phase, in which victims and their relatives would describe the impacts of Holmes's crimes.

Press Association

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