One holdout juror was likely why James Holmes avoided death penalty.

One Holdout Juror Was Likely Why James Holmes Avoided Death Penalty

One Holdout Juror Was Likely Why James Holmes Avoided Death Penalty

The Slatest
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Aug. 8 2015 2:04 PM

One Holdout Juror Was Likely Why James Holmes Avoided Death Penalty

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Century Aurora 16 movie theater is pictured in Colorado on April 27, 2015.

Reuters/Evan Semon

There was surprise and shock in the courtroom when James Holmes was spared execution on Friday for the July 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that killed 12 people. And apparently the decision was due to one holdout juror who steadfastly opposed the death penalty, according to one of the jurors who spoke to the media. Two others were wavering. “We ended our deliberations when one absolutely would not move,” the juror, who only identified herself as Juror 17, told reporters.

Juror 17 told NBC on Saturday morning that the holdout juror didn’t provide “exact reasoning” for her reticence with the death penalty. “She felt that life [in prison] was appropriate and she would not be swayed,” the juror said. “She just said she couldn’t do it.”

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Some jurors appear to have tried to sway the holdout. One juror, for example, “asked to review some of the most graphic images presented in the case — a 45-minute crime scene video showing blood and bodies — in an effort to sway the final hold out,” reports BuzzFeed. But that did not appear to help the case of the jurors who were trying to get a unanimous decision.

After the judge read the decision, Holmes leaned over to his defense attorney and said “thank you,” according to Fox News. In the family section, meanwhile, there was loud sobbing and several people left the courtroom, reports CNN. “As frustrated as I am at not achieving the result we wanted, those jurors did a hell of a job,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler told reporters. “I am disappointed at the outcome, I’m not disappointed with the system. I still think death is justice for what that guy did but the system said otherwise.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.