Theater shooter Holmes edging closer to death penalty

Theater shooter James Holmes’ trial is edging closer to the death penalty as the jury hears another round of heart-wrenching testimony.

On Tuesday, the Colorado theater shooting trial heard more testimony from the families and friends of those who were lost to the attack. With this testimony, prosecutors are beginning their final push towards having Holmes sentenced to death by the jury, according to

The jurors already rejected the arguments that painted Holmes, a former neuroscience student, as having to struggle with a mental illness and how it should remove his fate from execution.

“The case for death is only going to get stronger from this point forward,” said Denver attorney and former prosecutor Craig Silverman. “This jury is not going to want to disappoint the families of these victims. … I’d be very surprised if the verdict was anything other than death.”

The jury rejected Holmes’ insanity plea and decided that he was in fact fully capable of telling right from wrong. They said that his decision to open fire during a Batman movie on July 20, 2012 was a conscious decision not clouded by mental illness.

Holmes has already been convicted by the same jury of murdering 12 people and attempting to kill 70 others people at the same time.

The jury decided that the picture Holmes’ attorneys painted of him as being kind and gentle was quickly outweighed by the horror of his calculated attack on defenseless people.

In order for capital punishment to be considered, the jurors must unanimously agree, said Denver defense attorney, Karen Steinhauser. If that was not the case, Holmes would be sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.

“When jurors have to decide if life or death is an appropriate sentence, nothing should be taken as a given,” she said. “It’s not over yet.”

Victim’s families were encouraged to testify by prosecutors, including Sandy Phillips who lost her daughter Jessica Ghawi in the attack.

“I’m a little overwhelmed, but at the same time, my job is to share Jessie with the jury, and I will do that to the best of my ability,” she said outside the courthouse.

The judge, Carlos A. Samour Jr., announced very clear guidelines to what the victims testimony could include. Although they could discuss the last time they saw the victims, it could only be briefly. They were not allowed to talk about how the shooting impacted them.

“I’m going to be watching the jury closely,” Samour said.

Holmes had described the crime in a secret journal in which he methodically laid out his plans to kill people. And then, on July 20, 2012, he stepped into a theater shortly after midnight and stood before a crowd of over 400 people and opened fire with multiple weapons.


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