Judge formally sentences James Holmes to life in prison

James Holmes appears in court to be formally sentenced. Victims and their families were given the opportunity to speak about the shooting and its effects on their lives.  (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)

James Holmes appears in court to be formally sentenced. Victims and their families were given the opportunity to speak about the shooting and its effects on their lives. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Colorado theater shooter James Holmes was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday, more than three years after he carefully planned and executed a merciless attack on hundreds of defenseless moviegoers who were watching a midnight Batman premiere.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. had no other sentencing option after a jury earlier this month did not unanimously agree that Holmes should get the death penalty. The judge issued his sentence after two days of testimony from survivors of the attack, including first responders.

Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others in the July 20, 2012 ambush. He was convicted of first-degree murder and 140 counts of attempted first degree murder, as well as an explosives charge.

Colorado prisons officials will determine where Holmes will be incarcerated after an evaluation that includes his mental health. Holmes, who has been diagnosed with varying forms of schizophrenia, could wind up in the corrections department’s mental hospital, the 250-bed San Carlos Correctional Facility in Pueblo. He also could be transferred to an out-of-state prison.

Holmes moved from California to Colorado in 2011 and entered a prestigious postgraduate neuroscience program at the University of Colorado, Denver. But he dropped out after a year; by that time, he was well into planning the attack and stockpiling ammunition. He rigged his apartment to explode on the night of the attack, hoping to divert first responders from the Aurora theater. The homemade devices didn’t go off.

In July, the jury rejected Holmes’ insanity plea, finding he knew right from wrong. But it couldn’t unanimously agree on the death penalty, meaning Holmes automatically was sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors subsequently said one juror refused to sentence Holmes to death, apparently swayed by defense arguments that he did not deserve execution because he does suffer mental illness.

To the end, Holmes’ state-appointed attorneys blamed the massacre on his schizophrenia and psychotic delusions. They said Holmes had been obsessed with the idea of mass killing since childhood, and he pursued neuroscience in an effort to find out what was wrong with his brain.

Prosecutors pointed both to Holmes’ elaborate planning for the attack and his refusal to divulge to anyone — family, friends, psychiatrists — that he was thinking, and planning, murder.

Holmes stockpiled guns and ammunition and mapped out the Aurora theater complex to determine which auditorium would allow for the most casualties. He even calculated police response times.Aurora theater shootingColorado theater shootingJames HolmesShootingUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Folks wave from the side of a Muni cable car as it heads down Powell Street after cable car service returns from a 16-month COVID absence on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s cable cars return after 16-month absence

San Francisco’s cable cars are back, and they’re free for passengers to… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

Christina Najjar, 30, a TikTok star known online as Tinx, is one of the social media influencers tapped by the White House to help promote COVID-19 vaccines among young people. (Alyson Aliano/The New York Times)
How an ‘influencer army’ is fighting vaccine lies

By Taylor Lorenz New York Times Ellie Zeiler, 17, a TikTok creator… Continue reading

A great white shark swims off Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. The term “shark attack” is slowly disappearing, at least as a phrase used by researchers and officials who have been rethinking how to describe the moments when sharks and humans meet. (Benjamin Lowy/The New York Times)
Don’t call them ‘shark attacks,’ scientists say

By Alan Yuhas New York Times On the beaches of Northern California,… Continue reading

Vickie Gaddy, a nurse at the intensive care unit, with a 44-year-old patient who later died, at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, July 27, 2021. Doctors at the hospital say more younger people with COVID-19 are being sent to the ICU. (Isadora Kosofsky/The New York Times)
New COVID surge at a California ICU: ‘When will this ever end?’

By Isadora Kosofsky and Shawn Hubler New York Times Two months ago… Continue reading

Most Read