A jury has ruled that the death penalty is definitely an option for James Holmes, the man who opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Holmes pleaded insanity to the charges of first-degree murder for the death of 12 people, but the jury reached a verdict determining that James Holmes was guilty on all counts. Now, all that’s left to be decided is the fate of the Aurora shooter, and capital punishment is now on the table.
According to NBC News, the jury voted on Monday to keep the death penalty open as a possibility for the punishment of James Holmes. This does not mean the killer is destined for lethal injection, however — the jury can still vote to lock James Holmes in prison for the rest of his life.
Last week, members of the jury were given the chance to rule out the death penalty after hearing the testimonies of witnesses in defense of James Holmes. The man’s parents took the stand and begged the jurors not to consider the death penalty because their son is mentally ill. According to Fox News, one forensic psychiatrist did report that James Holmes was genetically likely to suffer from mental illness, due to the fact that his father and twin sister had both been hospitalized for it.
“He was not a violent person,” said Robert Holmes, the shooter’s father. “At least not until the event.”
When asked why he still loves his son, Robert replied, “Well, he’s my son and, you know, we always got along pretty well and he was actually an excellent kid.”
During the presentation of arguments, a woman stood up in the back of the courtroom and screamed, “Don’t kill him! Don’t kill him!” before she was dragged from the building.
But jurors were ultimately more convinced by the prosecution’s psychological evaluations of James Holmes, which claimed that his decision to booby-trap his home in anticipation of police officers was premeditated and calculated — meaning he was fully cognizant when he planned the massacre. The jury rejected the insanity defense and ruled that James Holmes as guilty for the murder of 12 and the attempted murder of many more.
The jury deliberated over the death penalty option for only a few hours, taking break over the long weekend before reaching a decision at the start of the week.
What do you think? Is James Holmes sane enough to deserve the death penalty? Or should he spend the rest of his life behind bars?
[Image courtesy of Marc Piscotty / Stringer / Getty Images]