Three years ago James Holmes, dressed head to toe in body armor, entered the emergency exit of a darkened Denver theater, killed 12 people and injured countless others. Now the families of those victims can find some sort of relief in the guilty verdict that the jury took 12 hours to come up with Thursday afternoon.
Holmes was convicted on 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges. Now that the jury has rejected the notion that Holmes was legally insane when he opened fire the trial begins a new chapter in order to decide whether he should die for his crimes.
Next week’s trial will be filled with testimony about Holmes’ mental illness, his childhood and with even more heartbreaking accounts from victims. Defense attorney Karen Steinhauser who is not involved in the Holmes case, gave her opinion on the upcoming decision the jurors will have to make:
“They’re going to have to decide, for someone who is mentally ill, if a death sentence is the right punishment. It ends up being a much more personal decision.”
The upcoming sentencing phase could easily take another month. If just one juror disagrees with the death sentence Holmes will be sent to prison for life. Holmes’ parents Arlene and Robert sat silently holding hands throughout the verdicts and after the final count was read, Arlene buried her face in Robert’s shoulder.
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