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James Holmes sentenced to life in prison without parole for Aurora theater shooting

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AP Photo/The Denver Post, Andy Cross, Pool, file

James Holmes, the man responsible for the 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. read the Colorado jury’s final verdict this afternoon, bringing the months-long trial to a close. 

Holmes’ rampage left 12 dead and 70 wounded when he opened fire with a legally purchased arsenal on a crowded midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The 27-year-old’s lawyers admitted their client was the gunman, but contended that he was in the midst of a psychotic break and thus couldn’t be held fully responsible for his actions. The jury ultimately rejected this claim.

Holmes was convicted on July 16 of all 165 counts against him, including 24 counts of murder in the first degree. Jurors then determined earlier this week that the death penalty would be considered as a possible sentence, after concluding that Holmes had ambushed his victims and the aggravating factors in the case outweighed the mitigating factors. However, while legal in Colorado, the death penalty is seldom used. Holmes would have been only the second person to receive capital punishment in the state since it was reinstated in 1975.

Holmes’ verdict comes two days after a man who attacked moviegoers with pepperspray, a hatchet and a pellet gun at a theater near Nashville, Tennessee, was killed by police. In a separate incident two weeks earlier, a gunman killed two women and took his own life in a movie theater shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana.