Colorado movie theatre gunman sentenced to life imprisonment

James Holmes, Colorado movie theatre gunman escapes execution, sentenced to life imprisonment after taking 12 lives

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people, including a child at a movie theatre in Colorado

The man who stormed into a Batman movie premier and shot dead 12 people in 2012 has escaped death penalty after the court sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole on Friday.

The jury handling the gunman’s case failed to find unanimity on execution for the 27-year-old who was convicted of 12 counts of first degree murder, and other charges of attempted murder and explosives possession, making a total of 165 charges.

The court had rejected Holmes’ insanity defence, as he was capable of distinguishing between right and wrong at the time he murdered the 12 people, and targeted 70 others.

The defence, however, said the man suffered from schizophrenia and was unable to control his actions.

"We do not have a unanimous final sentencing verdict on this count and... understand the court will impose a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole," said the jury.

His formal sentencing will take place from Aug. 24 to 26, according to District Judge Carlos Samour.

The prosecution was in favour of execution by lethal injection, but the jury did not reach unanimity on execution.

In his defence, his lawyer, Tamara Brady, asked the jurors whether they were ready to sign the death warrant of a mentally ill person, asserting that they would live with the decision their whole lives.

She added that doctors who spoke to the panel agreed that the man was seriously mentally ill.

He had dropped out of a graduate programme and was seeing a psychiatrist just weeks before carrying out the attack.

"He picked the time, manner and method of their deaths. Does he deserve a life sentence for that?" said District Attorney George Brauchler, adding that “This is about justice.”

Holmes did not express any reaction as his verdict was read by the judge.

"Justice is not served," said one relative of a victim, standing outside the court.  

Those close to the victims of the shooting expressed anger following the sentence. "I wonder how it feels to save the life of a mass murderer? Good job,” said one person, to Holmes’ defence lawyers.

Holmes entered a crowded premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20 of 2012, at a theatre in Aurora, Colorado, with body armour, a gas mask and helmet before he began firing sprays of hundreds of bullets on the crowd, killing 12 people, including a child.

TRTWorld and agencies