Jury keeps death penalty as option for Colorado movie gunman
Updated: 2015-08-04 09:40
James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colorado in this June 4, 2013 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
CENTENNIAL, Colo. - James Holmes, the Colorado movie massacre gunman, could face the death penalty after jurors found on Monday that aggravating factors including the cruel nature of his crimes counted for more than mitigating ones such as mental illness.
The panel of nine women and three men will now hear from victims of the July 2012 rampage at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises." They will then deliberate on whether the 27-year-old shooter should be executed by lethal injection.
After cautioning members of the public not to make any emotional outbursts in the small, windowless courtroom near Denver, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour began reading the jurors' forms.
Holmes, who killed 12 people and wounded 70, showed no reaction as the verdicts were delivered, staring straight ahead, hands in pockets. He has been mostly expressionless throughout the trial, which began in late April.
Sitting in the public gallery, Holmes' father, Bob, put an arm around the shoulders of his wife, Arlene, and the couple bowed their heads together.
The jury had deliberated for less than half a day on whether mitigating factors outweighed aggravating ones.
If just one member of the panel had found that they did, the former neuroscience graduate student would have received a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
"The handwriting is on the wall for James Holmes, and the writing says 'execution,'" said Denver-based legal analyst and defense attorney Scott Robinson.
"He faces an uphill battle from here on in. That was the last best chance for him to be spared capital punishment," Robinson added.