James Holmes Guilty in Colorado Movie Theater Shooting

By Peter Clarke, JD on July 16, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A jury has found James Holmes guilty in killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. Holmes opened fire on a crowd during a showing of The Dark Knight in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012.

The jury, selected from 9,000 possible candidates and short four members who had previously been dismissed, came to the verdict after just over a day of deliberation. The jury also found Holmes guilty of attempted murder and assorted weapons charges.

Jury Found the Insanity Defense Unconvincing

Holmes had argued that he was insane at the time of the shooting, and it was up to the state to prove he knew the nature of the crime and could distinguish between right and wrong at the time the crime was committed. By finding Holmes guilty on all first degree murder and murder with extreme indifference charges, the jury clearly found his insanity defense unconvincing.

Holmes' psychiatrist also came under fire after the shooting, and was criticized for not adequately warning law enforcement regarding Holmes' violent inclinations.

Will James Holmes Face the Death Penalty?

While capital punishment is available in Colorado, the state has only executed one person in the last 37 years. In this case, however, prosecutors sought the death penalty and now that Holmes has been found guilty, the court will move on to the penalty phase of his trial.

During the penalty phase, attorneys from both sides will present evidence as to the proper punishment. Like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before him, Holmes will be arguing against the death penalty and will likely put his mental state at issue again. If he is not given the death penalty, he will likely be sentenced to life in prison.

There are currently three people on death row in Colorado, including Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of murdering four people at a Chuck E. Cheese in 1994.

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