A US jury found “Batman” theater gunman James Holmes guilty of
first-degree murder Friday over the 2012 massacre that left 12 dead and
70 more injured in Colorado.
Judge Carlos Samour read out guilty
verdicts relating to each of the 12 people killed when Holmes opened
fire at a packed midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in the town of Aurora, just outside Denver.
27-year-old Holmes, dressed in a blue shirt and cream-colored trousers
with his hands in his pockets, showed no emotion as the verdicts were
The trial will now move on to the sentencing phase, in
which Holmes – who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity – could
face the death penalty.
The jury foreman handed over a thick
stack of verdict forms, representing the scale of the atrocity: in all,
Holmes faced 164 charges of murder and attempted murder, as well as one
count of possession of explosives.
After the 12 murder verdicts, the judge spent several minutes
reading out guilty verdicts on the attempted murder charges for those
Jurors were relatively quick to reach their verdicts:
they only retired to deliberate Thursday on whether Holmes – who has
been in custody since he was arrested outside the theater – was sane
when he opened fire.
Insanity plea rejected
up the trial on Wednesday, prosecutor George Brauchler ran through a
blow-by-blow account of the massacre, which stunned America and
reignited the country’s perennial debate about gun control.
to the 400 people in the theater, he said: “They came in hoping to see a
story of a hero dressed in black, someone who would fight
insurmountable odds in the name of justice and trying to protect others.
a different figure appeared by the screen dressed all in black. And he
came there with one thing in his heart and in his mind – and that was
mass murder,” the prosecutor said.
But Holmes’ defense lawyer Dan
King insisted his client was insane, saying: “The fact of the matter is
that when Mr Holmes stepped into that theater… he had lost touch with
“You cannot divorce the mental illness from this case,
or from Mr Holmes. The mental illness caused this to happen. Only the
mental illness caused this to happen, and nothing else.”
however, urged the court to “reject this claim that he didn’t know
right from wrong… That guy was sane beyond a reasonable doubt, and he
needs to be held accountable for what he did.”
It appears jurors did not buy the defense team’s arguments.
49-day-long trial included weeks of grisly evidence and testimony from
more than 250 witnesses. The jury also was shown hours of videotaped
interviews of Holmes by psychiatrists for the state.
and two defense psychiatrists agreed the defendant struggled with mental
illness. The state’s psychiatrists however maintained that Holmes was
sane when he carried out the rampage.
The punishment phase of the trial could last the rest of the summer, Samour has said.
The prosecutor has said he will seek the death penalty.
Holmes had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would have
been confined to a state mental hospital. To win a release, he would
have had to be found free of mental illness and no longer a danger to
himself or to others.