UPDATED 11:36 AM: Less than three weeks after James Holmes was convicted on all counts in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, the same jury has voted unanimously that he should get the death penalty. The nine women and three men were tasked with deciding whether mitigating factors such as the mental illness and the shooter’s lack of a criminal record were in play, in which case they could have given him life without parole. The penalty phase now moves to the third stage, during which the jury could recommend that the shooter die for his crimes. Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour just read the decision in court.
PREVIOUSLY, July 16: A jury has returned guilty verdicts in the trial of James Holmes, who attacked a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in a suburban Denver multiplex three years ago. The jury could have found him not guilty by reason of insanity. Next up is the penalty phase, in which the same jury of nine women and three men will decide whether the shooter will receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
The killer faced 165 counts including 24 of first-degree murder, two each for all 12 people who were killed in the attack — murder in the first degree after deliberation and murder in the first degree with extreme indifference. There also were 140 charges relating to the 70 people wounded in the attack along with one explosives charge.
Among the instructions Colorado State District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. had given to the jury was this: “If the defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity, it will be this Court’s duty to commit him to the custody of the Colorado Department of Human Services until such time as the Court … determines that he is eligible for release.”
On July 20, 2012, the gunman opened fire at a screening of the third film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Police say he propped open an exit door at the Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, CO, and went to his car nearby to change clothes and retrieve weapons. When he returned, he threw a canister of tear gas and started shooting moviegoers with multiple guns. He only stopped shooting after one of the guns jammed. He was arrested minutes after the attack.
Killed in the rampage were Micayla Medek (only 23 years old), Alex Teves (24), John Larimer (27), A.J. Boik (18), father of two Jonathan Blunk (26), Matt McQuinn (27), Jessica Ghawi (24), Alex Sullivan (27), Jesse Childress (29), father of four Gordon Cowden (51), mother of two Rebecca Ann Wingo (32) and 6-year-old Veronica-Moser Sullivan.