D.A.: "For James Eagan Holmes, Justice Is Death"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 1 2013 11:22 AM

Prosecutor: "For James Eagan Holmes, Justice Is Death"

James Holmes, Aurora theater shooting suspect, sits in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo., on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting suspectJames Holmes sits in the courtroom during his arraignment in Centennial, Colo., on March 12, 2013.

Pool photo by RJ Sangosti/Denver Post/AP

Prosecutors in Colorado on Monday morning said that James Holmes deserves to be put to death for his shooting rampage at an Aurora movie theater that left a dozen dead and scores more injured. "For James Eagan Holmes, justice is death," Arapahoe County district attorney George Brauchler told the court.

The announcement suggests that prosecutors have no interest in a plea bargain floated last week by Holmes' legal team that would have had him plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. As a result, we're likely in for a lengthy trial, as the New York Times explains:

The decision by the district attorney came after consultations with dozens of victims and their families. In the courtroom, some of the victims’ family members began crying at the prosecutors’ announcement.
It now lays the path for a long trial that will hinge on questions of whether Mr. Holmes, a 25-year-old former neuroscience student, was legally insane at the time of the shooting. Although he has not entered an insanity plea, his lawyers have called him mentally ill, and have strongly suggested that they will center their defense on his mental state.

While Holmes has not yet offered an insanity defense, it appears to be his legal team's only choice given there is little (to no) doubt that he was the gunman. His lawyers declined to enter a formal plea earlier this year, claiming they needed more time to prepare. As a result, the presiding judge entered a standard not-guilty plea for him, although that likely won't prevent the defense from ultimately changing that plea when the time comes.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 


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