CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A jury convicted Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes on Thursday in the 2012 movie theater massacre that killed 12 people and injured 70, and he could now face the death penalty. Jurors rejected the defense’s argument that Holmes was insane at the time of the attack where he opened fire on a crowded theater during a midnight showing of a Batman movie.
Arapahoe County District Chief Judge Carlos Samour Jr. revealed the jury’s verdict at 4:15 p.m. local time. The jury reached its decision on day two of deliberations after meeting for about 14 hours, and nearly three years to the day after the shooting.
Holmes stood at the defense table staring straight ahead as the judge read through count after count of charges of first-degree murder and attempt to commit murder in the first degree, finding him guilty.
Holmes, 27, had leaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Defense attorneys argued that Holmes, heavily armed with explosives strapped to his body, was in clutches of a psychotic episode when he ambushed the theater during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012.
Four psychiatrists who interviewed Holmes had agreed that he suffers from mental illness, but were split during the trial on whether he met the criteria to be declared insane at the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors painted a pictured of a conniving egomaniac who killed for enjoyment.
The case has drawn international attention and stoked fiery debate about the death penalty, gun control and the execution of people who are mentally ill. A rampage killer going to trial has also boosted interest. Most mass killers commit suicide or are killed by police at the scene.
Prosecutors rejected a plea offer to a life sentence without parole in 2013. “Justice is death,” District Attorney George Brauchler said at the time.
The tragedy at the Denver-area theater is among the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. Holmes, dressed in police-like riot gear, was armed with three guns and more than 700 rounds of ammunition. Police said the bloodshed would have been worse, but the gunman’s semi-automatic assault rifle jammed during the attack.
“He only stopped when the gun stopped,” Brauchler told the jury during closing arguments.
Those killed ranged in age from a 6-year-old kindergartener to a 51-year-old father of four. Fifty-eight moviegoers were wounded by gunfire, and 12 more were suffered other injuries in the commotion to escape the theater.
Those killed include Jon Blunk, 26; Alexander Boik, 18; Jesse Childress, 29; Alex Teves, 24; Gordon Cowden, 51; Jessica Ghawi, 24; John Larimer, 27; Matt McQuinn, 27; Micayla Medek, 23, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6; Alex Sullivan, 27; and Rebecca Wingo, 32. Some of the wounded suffered life-changing injuries including brain damage and paralysis.
It took 2½ years for the case to ever reach jury selection earlier this year. Officials have said the number of victims, amount of evidence and legal issues surrounding the death penalty and Holmes’ insanity plea contributed to the delay. Twelve jurors and 12 alternates were picked from a pool 9,000 candidates.
In February, records obtained by Yahoo News revealed the cost of the case had already exceeded $5 million three months before opening statements were made.
Source: Yahoo News