Where Will James Holmes Go Now That The Aurora Shooter Has Been Declared Guilty?
At 6:15 p.m. ET, the jury in the Arapahoe County Courtroom announced the verdict naming James Holmes guilty of more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder for killing 12 people and wounding 70 when he opened fire during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater on July 20, 2012. James Holmes is now eligible for the death penalty. So, now that the verdict is in: Where will James Holmes go now?
Holmes has been kept in solitary confinement at Arapahoe Detention Center since his arrest in 2012, according to the New York Daily News. And, in the event of Holmes' being placed on death row, he will only end up in one place: Sterling Correctional Facility. Sterling, which is about 25 miles outside of Denver, is, according to the Washington Post, the only facility in Colorado where death row inmates are held before they are moved to a different penitentiary before execution.
Colorado does not have a long history of executions. In fact, in 1997, Gary Davis became the first and only Colorado inmate to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the state in 1979, according to the Denver Post. But Holmes' jury came from one of the biggest pools in U.S. history, reported CNN. Since the start of this trial, Holmes case has been under close scrutiny, and the death penalty verdict still leaves room for the possibility that Holmes will be headed to Sterling.
CNN reported the 27-year-old has never denied that he was the suspect in charge of the 2012 killings, but his lawyers argued his unstable mental state was behind his criminal charges. Defense attorney Dan King told the jury in closing arguments Holmes could not be held accountable for what happened when he opened fire on a movie theater full of people.
The evidence is clear that he could not control his thoughts. He could not control his actions, and he could not control his perceptions. ... Only the mental illness caused this to happen, and nothing else.
The Huffington Post reported that prosecutors called 250 witnesses to the stand, including survivors from the attack, Holmes' former girlfriend and therapist. A FBI agent told the jury that Holmes had booby-trapped his apartment with explosives to distract officials after the theater attack, according to the Huffington Post. In the end prosecutors maintained that Holmes had precalculated this plan.
And now that the verdict has come in that Holmes is guilty of the 166 charges against him, jurors have to decide whether Holmes will get the death penalty or life on parole according to the AP. After the May decision to sentence Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty, Holmes faces a similar fate. But yet again, it's a fate that the jury will decide.