Posted: Jul 22, 2015 08:32 AM MDT
Updated: Jul 15, 2016 05:38 AM MDT
The month-long penalty phase of the trial of James Holmes, who could be sentenced to death for killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater, is set to begin Wednesday. Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but the jury rejected that defense on July 16 when it found Holmes guilty on 24 counts of murder and 140 counts of attempted murder.
His attorneys are expected to raise his mental illness again during the penalty phase when they try to persuade the same jurors to spare his life. The prosecution has signaled it will seek the death penalty. When the penalty phase of the trial is done, it will close a chapter in what has been a long, grueling journey -- more than 11 weeks of trial, about six months after the start of jury selection, and some three years after the nightmare began for families in and around the suburban Denver community.
Holmes, a 27-year-old failed neuroscience graduate student, told Judge Carlos Samour on July 21 that he will not testify for himself during the penalty phase. He said he voluntarily made his decision and was not pressured by his lawyers. He didn't testify for himself during the first phase of the trial either.
Holmes' trial began in April 2015. His 165 charges included murder and attempted murder charges. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
At least 12 people were killed and 70 others were injured in a shooting during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie at a Colorado theater.
Police arrested a man believed to be the shooter in a rear parking lot of the theater in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
Two federal officials confirmed the suspect as Colorado resident James Holmes, who was then 24.
Chaos broke out during the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century Aurora 16 theater when the shooting began.
Police said the gunman "appeared" in the front of the theater and threw a smoke bomb before opening fire. Sources say the smoke bomb was tear gas.
Cell phone video taken by someone at the theater showed scores of people screaming and fleeing the building. Some had blood on their clothes.
One police officer carried a girl believed to be about 9 with gunshot wounds to her back out of the theater, a witness said. "She wasn't moving."
Here the bomb squad prepares to check Holmes' vehicle.
The University of Colorado Denver Aschutz Medical Campus confirmed that Holmes, seen here, was in the process of withdrawing from its graduate program in neurosciences.
Shooting suspect James Holmes' booking photo.