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Jury decides Colorado theater shooter Holmes could face death penalty

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Posted at 12:33 PM, Aug 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-03 14:47:59-04

A jury has agreed that aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors for count one of the multiple murder charges for which Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes was convicted.

That means that a third and final phase of sentencing will happen to determine whether Holmes gets sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured scores more in 2012 in a Colorado movie theater.

Under Colorado law, the jury can move death penalty proceedings forward to a third phase, or end the death penalty deliberations and sentence Holmes to life in prison without parole.

Holmes was convicted of 24 counts of murder in the first degree — two for each victim in July.

Jurors began deliberating Thursday on the second phase of how to proceed with sentencing.

Prosecutors had argued that the jury should continue to death penalty proceedings which would be a final, third phase under Colorado law.

Holmes’ attorneys urged the jury to give Holmes a life sentence and end the months-long trial.

His attorneys have said that his schizophrenia mitigated the capital crimes for which he was convicted.

Holmes had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and when the jury declared his guilt he showed no reaction.

By virtue of his insanity plea, Holmes never denied he was responsible for the slayings.

The lawyers’ arguments came midway through a sentencing hearing that asks the jury to make a milestone decision about how Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 70 more in a movie theater massacre: Did the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt?

Three dozen witnesses have testified during this sentencing phase, including James Holmes’ parents and sister.

Holmes, 27, is a former neuroscience doctoral student.