Aurora Theater Gunman James Holmes Eligible for Death Penalty

The Associated Press
Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool

On August 3 the 12-person jury in the trial of Aurora theater gunman James Holmes unanimously decided he is eligible for the death penalty.

On July 16 the same jury found Holmes guilty of the first-degree murder of 12 people at the theater. A second phase of the trial began on July 30, with the jurors considering how to proceed on sentencing. That phase ended Monday with the jury deciding the death penalty would be considered for punishment.

CNN reports that the third phase of the trial–the actual sentencing phase–could begin as soon as August 4.

Prosecutors pressed for the death penalty as the jury considered how to proceed. Defense attorneys, on the other hand, “urged the jury to give Holmes a life sentence and end the months-long trial.” According to the Daily Mail, the defense attorneys also “pleaded with jurors to show mercy, saying it was mental illness and not free will that drove Holmes to murder.”

NBC News reported that the prosecution countered the mental illness defense during the first phase of the trial by calling two psychologists who testified “that while Holmes may have been mentally ill, he was sane on July 20, 2012, and the days he spent planning leading up to it.”

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