James Holmes, Alleged Aurora Shooter, Facing The Death Penalty As Plea Deal Is Denied

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Holmes
Accused Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes listens at his arraignment in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for James Holmes, the alleged Aurora theater shooter. Holmes’ attorneys had submitted a guilty plea deal, in exchange for life in prison, but that was rejected by the district attorney.

District Attorney George Brauchler said in court on Monday that for James Holmes “justice is death,” as the prosecution rejected the defense’s plea deal and will look to execute the alleged Aurora shooter, reports the Wall Street Journal. Last week, Holmes' attorneys sought a plea deal that, in exchange for a guilty plea, would have Holmes avoid execution and serve life in prison.

Holmes is charged with 12 first degree murders stemming from the shooting at the Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, Colo., during the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The shooting spree also left 58 wounded.

Earlier in March, Judge William Sylvester entered a not guilty plea for Holmes as his attorneys were not sure about how they wanted their client to plead, reports the Wall Street Journal. The next step for the prosecution is to convince a juror that Holmes is guilty of the 12 murder charges. If Holmes is convicted, the prosecution would need to convince the jury in a separate hearing that the death penalty is warranted for the crimes committed by Holmes. The defense can also plead their case for Holmes to avoid the death penalty and serve life in jail if convicted.

When rejecting the defense’s guilty plea, the prosecution concluded in their statement, “The defendant knows he is guilty, the defense attorneys know he is guilty, and both of them know that he was not criminally insane,” reports NBC News.

If the death penalty is ordered for Holmes, it would be the first in Colorado since the 1997 execution of Gary Davis. In the same court documents as the guilty plea deal, Holmes’ defense said they are also looking into the possibility of an insanity defense. Holmes' trial will start on August 5, 2013.

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