Jury Moves Closer to Death Penalty Sentence for James Holmes

Aurora Theater Shooting Verdict
RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images

James Holmes, found guilty in the 2012 shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater that killed 12 moviegoers and injured 70 others, will face a possible death penalty sentence after jurors determined that “mitigating factors” of his life do not outweigh the heinous nature of his crime.

The jury will now determine whether Holmes should be sentenced to death. They deliberated for about three hours on the question of whether “mitigating factors” warranted sentencing him instead to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Holmes, wearing a blue button down shirt and khakis, listened to the latest verdict with his hands in his pockets.

Last month, after Holmes was convicted on all 165 counts in the shooting rampage, the jury determined that there were “aggravating factors” in his crimes that warranted consideration of the death penalty.

Last week, Holmes’ parents and sister testified in what was characterized as the “mitigating factors” phase of sentencing. Jurors had to decide whether those factors were enough to outweigh aggravating factors, and spare him capital punishment and instead sentence him to life in prison. But they did not.

His mother, Arlene Holmes, argued that her son suffered from mental illness that they were unaware of until after the shootings.

“He has a serious mental illness,” she told the court. “He didn’t ask for that. Schizophrenia chose him. He didn’t choose it, and I still love my son.”