In one of the worst mass murders in American history, a Colorado jury has found James Holmes GUILTY of murder. The charging document in Colorado v. James Eagan Holmes was extensive and accounted for the 12 murder victims, the 70 injured victims, as well as his use of explosives to booby trap his apartment.
The next step in this case is the penalty phase. During that part of the trial, prosecutors will present evidence to support the imposition of the death penalty – evidence that proves this homicide was heinous, atrocious, and cruel. Alternatively, the defense will be presenting evidence in support of mitigation and a LIFE sentence.
There is little doubt that the defense case will focus on Holmes’ obvious signs of mental illness. In a previous post, we discussed his effort to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. While the jury may not agree that Holmes’ mental problems and possible insanity rose to the level of an affirmative defense that negates guilt, they may lean on such evidence to avoid imposition of the death penalty.
On the other hand, jurors are expected to be so offended by the calculated and cold blooded nature of this mass murder that there is no defense that could overcome it – even obvious mental illness.
Put simply, some cases are just that bad. In the end, I expect Holmes to get death.