Theater shooter Holmes spared from death penalty by Colorado jury

By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Aug. 7, 2015 at 7:35 PM
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CENTENNIAL, Colo., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- James Eagan Holmes, the man who gunned down a dozen people at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises three years ago, was sentenced by a Colorado jury on Friday to life in prison without parole.

The jury announced earlier Friday that it had agreed on the punishment for Holmes' conviction, which the same jury handed down last month. The sentence was announced at 5 p.m. local time.

Holmes, 27 was spared death for the bloody 2012 massacre at a Aurora, Colo., movie theater, in which 12 people died and 70 were wounded. Dressed in theatrical makeup, possibly as the Joker from the Batman films, Holmes indiscriminately opened fire on the crowd about 30 minutes into the film. , Holmes was convicted by the same jury last month on 24 counts of first degree murder and 140 counts of attempted murder. The nine-woman and three-man jury rejected the defense's argument that Holmes was insane at the time of the shootings.

The jury didn't deliberate for long on determining Holmes' punishment. The panel began weighing Holmes' fate Thursday and announced they had reached a decision Friday.

Before the sentence was read, the relatively brief deliberations indicated to some that the jury had decided to put Holmes to death -- as it usually takes longer to reach a decision if even one juror objects to the death sentence.

The life sentence, though, indicates that most, if not all the jurors had already favored life imprisonment.

Friday, a defense attorney argued that executing an insane man would be a gross miscarriage of justice.

"The death of a seriously mentally ill man is not justice," defense attorney Tamara Brady said.

Friday's decision isn't a surprise to many, as Colorado rarely executes criminals. The state has killed just one person on death row since 1997.

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