VERDICT: James Holmes found guilty of murder in Colorado movie theater shooting
CENTENNIAL, Colorado (CNN) – A jury has found Colorado theater shooter James Holmes guilty on all 24 counts of first-degree murder in the July 2012 shooting that killed 12 people. Holmes faced two counts of first-degree murder for each of the 12 victims.
Holmes showed no reaction as the verdict against him was announced. He stood at the defense table with his attorney.
The jury also found Holmes guilty of attempted first-degree murder on some of the 140 counts against him for the 70 people wounded in the shooting. Additionally, he was found guilty of one count of possession or control of an explosive or incendiary device.
The gallery in the courtroom was full of survivors of the shooting and friends and family of the victims. Before the reading, the mother of victim Jessica Ghawi was holding her daughter’s green scarf up to her eyes while she waited to hear the verdict.
‘Hold this man accountable’
Prosecutors — who called more than 200 witnesses to the stand, among them investigators, students who knew Holmes and his ex-girlfriend — insisted the shooter knew well what he was doing. He acted deliberately to deliver pain and his mental issues shouldn’t excuse him from paying the price, they argued.
“Look at the evidence, then hold this man accountable,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said. “Reject this claim that he didn’t know right from wrong when he murdered those people and tried to kill the others. …
“That guy was sane beyond a reasonable doubt, and he needs to be held accountable for what he did.”
Having bought a ticket 12 days earlier, Holmes on July 19, 2012, walked into the theater No. 9 screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” like other patrons. He then walked out through a rear door, which he left propped open.
Just after midnight, some 18 minutes after the movie began, he returned wearing a ballistic helmet, a gas mask, black gloves and protective gear for his legs, throat and groin.
A tear gas canister exploded in the theater, then gunfire erupted from an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one .40 caliber handgun. The shooting stopped with Holmes’ arrest outside the theater about seven minutes after the first 911 calls were made to police.
But it wasn’t in time to save the lives of Jonathan Blunk, Alexander Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Thomas Larimer, Matthew McQuinn, Alex Sullivan, Alexander Teves, Rebecca Ann Wingo, Medek, and the youngest victim, Moser-Sullivan.
Now that jurors have convicted Holmes on multiple murder charges, the next question is what price he’ll pay.
In 2013, the prosecution signaled it would seek the death penalty.
The shooter’s parents, Robert and Arlene Holmes, were regulars in court during their son’s trial. They have not talked to reporters. But they have written two open letters and published a prayer book detailing the family’s internal struggle and pleading for their son’s life.
In a December 2014 letter published in the Denver Post, the couple said, “We have spent every moment for more than two years thinking about those who were injured, and the families and friends of the deceased who were killed, in the theater shooting in Aurora.
“We are always praying for everyone in Aurora. We wish that July 20, 2012, never happened.”
Still, while they didn’t deny James Holmes was behind the carnage, the parents said they didn’t think he should have been put on trial, much less be convicted and possibly face the death penalty, given his mental state.
“(James Holmes) is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,” his parents wrote. “We believe that the death penalty is morally wrong, especially when the condemned is mentally ill.”