Monday, April 1, 2013

‘Justice for James Holmes is death’: Prosecutors seek execution for alleged Batman shooter

Prosecutors in Colorado are expected to announce whether they will seek the death penalty in the case against James Holmes, the accused gunman in the Aurora theater massacre that left 12 people dead and 70 others injured last July. NBC's LeAnne Gregg reports.

Prosecutors said Monday that they will seek the death penalty for James Holmes, the man accused of gunning down 12 people and wounding 70 at a Batman movie last summer in Colorado.
George Brauchler, the district attorney for Arapahoe County, said he made the decision after speaking with more than 800 victims and family members.
“Given all the input I considered and all the information available, it is my intent that justice for James Holmes is death,” he said at a hearing.
Brauchler had already rejected an offer from the defense to let Holmes plead guilty and serve a life sentence.
Judge William Sylvester of the Colorado circuit court entered a plea of not guilty for Holmes last month after his lawyers said they were not ready to plead. The judge left the door open for lawyers to mount an insanity defense.
The two cases in the legal case fought in public last week. After the defense made its offer, Brauchler said in a filing that Holmes’ lawyers were only trying to generate sympathy for their client.
The only conclusion, the prosecutor wrote, “is that the defendant knows he is guilty, the defense attorneys know he is guilty and that both of them know that he was not criminally insane.”
Brauchler wrote an Op-Ed in The Denver Post over the weekend defending the death penalty. Colorado legislators have considered banning it. He did not name Holmes but wrote of capital punishment as an important tool of justice.
“Repealing the death penalty would result in acts similar to those in Newtown, Conn., or the acts of Tim McVeigh being punished no differently than a single murder of one gang member by another,” the prosecutor wrote. “Each murder after the first would be a freebie.”

R.J. Sangosti / Pool
Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes listens at his arraignment March 12.
Holmes’ lawyers have said that jailers determined he was a danger to himself and needed a mental evaluation, and that he was held for several days in a psychiatric ward, sometimes in restraints.
He surrendered to police within minutes of the July 12 shooting rampage at a midnight screening of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., a suburb of Denver.
At his first court appearance, Holmes had stark, red-orange hair and wore a blank stare. He has since appeared more stable and natural-looking. He showed up in court last month with a bushy beard.
The hearing Monday was set to begin at 11 a.m. EDT. Legal observers have pointed out that the two sides could still reach a plea deal later, even as prosecutors seek to put Holmes to death.

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