James E. Holmes guilty of murder in Aurora movie theater massacre
A Colorado jury found James E. Holmes guilty of 24 counts of first-degree murder for the 2012 shooting rampage that left 12 people dead and 70 others injured inside a suburban Denver movie theater at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
The former neuroscience student at the University of Colorado-Denver pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was facing 24 counts of murder, 140 counts of attempted murder and one charge for possession of an explosive.
While Holmes’ defense attorneys in the capital murder case never disputed that he slipped into the darkness of an Aurora Cineplex and opened fire on the crowd, they argued the 27-year-old was delusional and had suffered a psychotic break leading up to the attack.
The prosecution focused on findings of state-appointed forensic psychiatrists who found Holmes mentally ill yet still capable of differentiating wrong from right — and therefore sane under Colorado law. Prosecutors argued Holmes meticulously plotted the shootings for weeks prior to the rampage because he had dropped out of his doctoral program, lost his girlfriend and lacked purpose in life.
Dressed in a grey shirt and khakis, his hair trimmed close to his head and wearing glasses, Holmes remained impassive while Judge Carlos Samour Jr. read out the verdicts, a process that took over an hour.
Prosecutors have argued Holmes deserves the death penalty. But after announcing the verdicts the judge adjourned Thursday evening, instructing the jury to return Jul. 22 when sentencing proceedings will begin.