James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater two years ago, is not a monster, said his parents in a letter to prosecutors. The letter has been released just as 9,000 jury summonses are being delivered. Jury selection is scheduled to begin January 20. Opening statements for the months-long trial likely won’t begin until late May or early June, according to the Denver Post.
Holmes is charged with murdering 12 people and attempting to murder 70 others inside the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, in what was one of the worst mass shootings in American history. Killed in the attack were Jonathan Blunk, A.J. Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Matt McQuinn, Micayla Medek, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Alex Sullivan, Alex Teves, and Rebecca Wingo. He faces the death penalty. Holmes’ attorney confirmed his client is the killer, according to an earlier Inquisitr article.
In the letter, Holmes’ parents say their son suffers from mental illness and begged prosecutors to agree to a plea deal that would see him locked up for life and spared execution. Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and has undergone two formal — and still confidential — mental-health evaluations, reports USA Today.
“We realize treatment in an institution would be best for our son. We love our son, we have always loved him, and we do not want him to be executed,” Robert and Arlene Holmes wrote in a letter distributed to Denver media Friday morning. “We also decry the need for a trial. A lengthy trial requires everyone to relive those horrible moments in time, causing additional trauma.”
They added, “We do not know how many victims of the theater shooting would like to see our son killed. But we are aware of people’s sentiments. We have read postings on the Internet that have likened him to a monster. He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness.”
USA Today reports that comments from victim’s families are being withheld due to pending jury selection. Shooting victim Marcus Weaver expressed his feelings in an earlier comment, saying that while he’s personally forgiven Holmes for the attack that killed one of his friends, “he will still have to answer to the people of Colorado for the horrific act that he carefully orchestrated.”
In the statement, Weaver said he’s praying for everyone involved, especially this close to the holidays. Weaver, who was shot in the upper arm, has previously urged Holmes to plead guilty and accept his punishment.
“No one is going to be smiling and happy… during this trial but my hope is that it will began closure for the many victims, families and survivors still hurting. Vengeance is the Lord’s and we will just have to ride this out on the national stage, unfortunately,” Weaver wrote.
[Image via ABC News]