Jurors in the sentencing phase of James Holmes’ trial for murder in the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater voted unanimously on Monday to retain the death penalty as an option.
The trial now heads to its final phase, when lawyers for both sides in the case will make their last pleas to the jury, with testimony from survivors and victims’ families expected to be wrenching.
Following final arguments, the jury will render a decision on Holmes’ fate, which includes life in prison or death by lethal injection.
Last month, the jury found the 27-year-old guilty of killing 12 people and wounding at least 70 others just days before the third anniversary of the 2012 massacre, which occurred during a midnight screening of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
After a nearly three-month trial marked by gruesome crime-scene details and harrowing eyewitness testimony, the jury rejected the defense team’s argument that Holmes was not guilty by reason of insanity.
Holmes’ lawyers admitted he was the gunman in court filings, but argued that their client “was in the throes of a psychotic episode when he committed the acts.”
Monday’s decision comes days after John Russell Houser, 58, opened fire on a Lafayette, Louisiana, theater screening the Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck,” killing two and wounding nine. A veteran former FBI profiler suggested Houser may have been inspired by Holmes.
“There’s a very strong likelihood this could be either an intentional or subliminal type of a copycat situation,” Clint Van Zandt told TheWrap.