Prosecutors seek death penalty for accused Colorado cinema shooter

‘Justice is death,’ says lawyer in case over killing of 12 at Batman film

James Holmes, facing trial for the deaths of 12 people in a cinema shooting.  Photograph: RJ Sangosti/Reuters

James Holmes, facing trial for the deaths of 12 people in a cinema shooting. Photograph: RJ Sangosti/Reuters


Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against James E Holmes, the gunman accused of killing 12 cinemagoers in a suburb of Denver, Colorado last year, the district attorney in the case told a US court.

Mr Holmes deserves to die for killing 12 and wounding 58 others at a showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises , on July 20th, said George Brauchler, district attorney in Arapahoe County where the murders took place.

“For James Eagan Holmes, justice is death,” said Mr Brauchler, rejecting an offer proposed by Mr Holmes’s lawyers in which he would have pleaded guilty to the shooting in exchange for life in prison with no chance of release on parole.

Mr Holmes, a 25-year-old former neuroscience student, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder after opening fire at a multiplex in Aurora. He was arrested moments after the shootings standing next to his car and wearing black body armour outside an emergency exit to the cinema.

The decision of prosecutors to seek the death penalty will lead to a lengthy trial in which Mr Holmes’s defence lawyers will attempt to argue he was legally insane at the time of the shootings.

Last week Mr Holmes’s lawyers said in a court filing that while they were willing to claim insanity as a defence, their client was also willing to bring the case to a “speedy and definite conclusion”.

“The only conclusion that an objective reader would reach . . . is that the defendant knows that he is guilty, the defence attorneys know he is guilty and that both of them know that he was not criminally insane,” Mr Brauchler wrote in a response to the defence side’s position. There is still a possibility that the sides may reach a plea agreement.

Mr Holmes’s lawyers have said their client has been hospitalised twice since he was arrested, once for “potential self-inflicted injuries”.

The accused saw a psychiatrist in the weeks before the shootings and any records and a notebook he sent the psychiatrist the day before the killings may prove crucial in his trial.