The convicted Aurora, Colorado theater shooter, James Eagan Holmes, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday afternoon. He was found guilty on July 16 on 24 counts of first-degree murder in the notorious shooting spree during a July 20, 2012 showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
Before Judge Carlos Samour read the verdicts he announced that he had "not prohibited emotional reactions," but that any verbal "outbursts," would not be allowed. Holmes, who looked straight-laced in a gray oxford shirt, and slicked back hair, didn't react as he learned that news that he had avoided death row.
For each victim, a separate life sentence was issued, with the judge reading a note explaining that the jury hadn't reached a unanimous final sentencing verdict, meaning life in prison would be imposed.
During the sentencing phase of Holmes' trial, witnesses for the prosecution included family members of the 12 victims who died. The father of a victim named Alex Sullivan described the scene as he tried in vain to find his son, who died while celebrating his birthday and first wedding anniversary.
Holmes' own family testified in his defense, attempting to spare him from the death penalty. The defendant's sister, Chris, arguing that he was insane when he pulled to trigger, a quality she saw firsthand when she visited him, and found that "his eyes were almost bulging out of his head in a way."
Deliberations lasted six and a half hours over the course of two days. This was the same jury that dismissed Holme's insanity plea, when they convicted him. According to a Colorado law, the "not guilty by reason of insanity," plea requires the prosecution to prove a suspect is sane, instead of the defense having to prove that they're insane. The requirement sets a higher bar for conviction, which this jury felt the prosecution had cleared.
Upon his arrest, Holmes identified himself to the authorities as "the Joker." During court proceedings back in May Holmes's bizarre personal journal was an exhibit in the trial. It told the story in detail of planning the murder spree in order to cause the greatest possible number of fatalities, as noted by the prosecution. But for the defense, the book's content–for instance, repetitions of the word "why"–was intended as evidence of his insanity.
On the day of the crime three years ago, then 24-year-old Holmed burst into the theater with four legally obtained guns: an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and two Glocks. He was dressed in tactical gear including body armor and special equipment that let him reload more quickly during his attack.
According to The Associated Press
, during deliberations on Friday morning, the jury asked to see the gruesome, 45 minute crime scene video. The defense argued that the video would be prejudicial, but the judge allowed it anyway.
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