On Thursday, shooter James Holmes was found guilty on all 166 charges of murder and attempted murder for killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a deadly 2012 massacre at an Aurora, Colorado theater. Holmes' case now enters the sentencing phase to determine whether the 27-year-old will face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. But how would Holmes die if he's sentenced to death?
Technically, Colorado is one of 32 states that have legalized capital punishment, but it has largely outlawed the death penalty, mostly because Governor John Hickenlooper has put a moratorium on all executions since coming to office. Since 1979, when the death penalty was reinstated in Colorado, the state has only executed one person, and that was in 1997, nearly 20 years ago. There are currently three people on the Colorado death row, including one who was recently granted a temporary reprieve. Hickenlooper has said that no death row inmate will be executed as long as he is governor.
The only method of execution in Colorado is lethal injection. Gary Lee Davis, the last person to be executed by the state, met that fate in 1997. Should Holmes be placed on death row, that would be the fate awaiting him.
But whether Holmes will face the death penalty or even be executed has yet to be seen. Public opinion on capital punishment among Colorado residents, including the state's governor, are mixed. But polls show the majority of Coloradans are in support of the death penalty. A 2014 Quinnipiac University poll found that 66 percent of voters supported the death penalty and believed that the punishment should continue to be used in the state.
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