Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty in Aurora Theater Case

April 1, 2013
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Given that Holmes’ guilt is not in doubt, the defense is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity

CENTENNIAL –Prosecutors announced Monday they would seek the death penalty for Aurora theater shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes.

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said he reached his decision after prosecutors spoke with more than 800 victims and relatives of those killed in the July 20 shooting, which left 12 dead and 58 injured.

“In this case, for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” said Brauchler in a hearing at the Arapahoe County Courthouse.

Holmes, 25, showed no reaction, but his parents clasped hands and embraced, according to the Associated Press.

Defense attorneys had sought a deal in which Holmes would plead guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a life sentence without possibility of parole. The offer came a day after the state legislature defeated a bill that would have abolished capital punishment in Colorado.

Bryan Beard, a friend of slain moviegoer Alex Sullivan, said he supported the prosecution’s decision.

“My original thought was ‘thank goodness, I am so glad this is happening,’” Beard told reporters. “I’ve said this once and this is the last time I’ll say it, the only way that death will receive justice when somebody murders somebody else, is death.”

A trial date was set for Feb. 4, 2014. Given that Holmes’ guilt is not in doubt, the defense is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, a plea involving a battery of psychological evaluations that could push back the trial date even further.

Chief District Court Judge William Sylvester said he would be unable to preside over the trial due to time constraints stemming from his duties as chief judge, and reassigned the case to District Court Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr.

“[T]he reality [is] that a final resolution of this case is now likely years away,” said Sylvester in his order.

Holmes, a former graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado, faces 166 charges related to his role in the massacre at the midnight premier of “The Dark Knight Rises.” His Aurora apartment was later found booby-trapped with homemade explosives.

Three inmates now sit on Colorado’s Death Row, all of whom were prosecuted in the 18th Judicial District. One of those, Nathan Dunlap, is awaiting an execution date after exhausting his appeals stemming from his conviction in the 1993 murder of four employees at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora.

The death penalty is rarely sought or employed in Colorado. In the 37 years since the state reinstated capital punishment, only one inmate has been executed, Gary Lee Davis in 1997.

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2 Responses to Prosecutors Will Seek Death Penalty in Aurora Theater Case

  1. Kory Nelson
    April 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    The voters of the 18th Judicial District are decisively more conservative than the liberals just to the north, as reflected by George Brauchler’s success in the November election against the best Democrat candidate in decades, despite the national % returns in favor of Obama. Mr. Brauchler was elected by voters who knew HE would be the one to make this call. Now, just because this key decision has been reached does not mean Holmes will be injected tomorrow. While there is absolutely proof beyond any and all doubt that he was the shooter (this is not a case built on circumstantial evidence, witnesses with either questionable motives or poor memory, or clumsy CSI work), the defense experts on Holmes state of mind have not yet been heard. Why? Why won’t the defense turn over the psychiatric evaluations to the prosecution to get a life sentence?! Well, think about it. If he truly did suffer from a mental disease that rendered him incapable of differentiating right from wrong, why wouldn’t the defense attorneys even offer to plead guilty? They could not and never would do that – as they would have a viable and absolute affirmative defense to the charge! By tipping their hand as their offer for a life sentence, they have also admitted Holmes has no viable defense! He was not insane – possibly only a sociopath. I predict Holmes will never be granted the capacity to even present jury instructions on the insanity defense by the judge. If the prosecution can do a good job in jury selection, preventing a person with a hidden agenda greeting on to the jury, they should be able to get a death verdict. The judge seems to be the best in the District, so as long as the DAs cross their t’s and dot their i’s. they should be able to minimize the issues that would be available for the automatic appellate review by the Colorado appellate system. Holmes isn’t going anywhere, and having more prosecutors getting the experience on a death penalty case is actually a good thing, as having that experience in younger prosecutors in case future cases with more difficult evidentiary and proof issues come up would be a good thing to have!

  2. Saxxon
    April 1, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Death is the only just solution for this maggot. The only concern on the march to the gallows is finding and bringing his accomplices to justice.

    That would be those that helped him rig some of the most sophisticated IEDs seen stateside, the theatre that disarmed CCW holders who could ahve stopped his shooting spree with far less victims and the liberal psych establishment that pumps SSRI drugs into unstable douchebags like this OWS protester, former Obama campaign worker.

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