After rejecting a plea bargain offer from the attorneys of James Holmes that would have resulted in a life sentence, Arapahoe District Attorney George Brauchler announced he would be seeking the death penalty. Holmes is standing trial in last July’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that left a dozen people dead and 70 injured.
Brauchler said he had conferred with victims of the shooting and relatives of those who died in making his decision; many of those victims who were present in the crowded courtroom this morning expressed relief, joy and satisfaction at the announcement. Holmes’ attorneys still have the option of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, which if successful, could mitigate a death sentence.
Depending on how they plead, this case could go in many different directions, with Holmes ending up in an asylum, on Death Row, or cycling through years of appeals. But one thing is evident - resolution could still be many years off; a new judge has just been named to take over the case.
Does execution mean justice for the victims of Aurora? If you’re opposed to the death penalty on principal, does the egregiousness of this crime change your view? How would you want to see this trial resolved?
Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times reporter
Karen Steinhauser, criminal defense lawyer and adjunct professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law; former prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s Office