San Diego-born James Holmes was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder in the Aurora, Colorado, movie massacre. He stood for an hour as he was convicted in all 12 deaths and more than 150 other counts.
The jury’s decision in Centennial, Colorado, came on Day 2 of deliberations after meeting for about 14 hours.
Holmes, 27, graduated from Rancho Peñasquitos’ Westview High School. He reportedly had suffered mental health issues in middle school and attempted suicide at 11.
He also worked as a Salk Institute intern in 2006. In 2010, Holmes had a job at a capsule-coating factory in San Diego County.
Reporters camped outside his parents’ home in July 2012.
The verdicts, read by Arapahoe County Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr., enables prosecutors to seek the death penalty for the former graduate student who also wounded 70 at a midnight premiere of the Batman film.
After a three-month trial in which they were presented with thousands of pieces of evidence and testimony from hundreds of witnesses, jurors deliberated for about a day and a half, then handed prosecutors a big win.The panel of nine women and three men rejected the defense’s claim that Holmes was legally insane.
The trial now enters the punishment phase, when the jury must determine whether Holmes, 27, should be put to death or serve a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole.
The defense conceded that Holmes was the shooter, but presented expert witnesses who testified that the former neuroscience student was not in control of his actions because he suffered from schizophrenia and heard voices ordering him to kill.
The prosecution presented two court-appointed psychiatrists who concluded Holmes was legally sane when he plotted and carried out the July 2012 rampage at a multiplex in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
District Attorney George Brauchler said the gunman was unusually intelligent but socially inept, and harbored a long-standing hatred of humanity.
MORE: After 13 hours of deliberation, jury finds Colorado theater shooter James Holmes guilty of murder: http://t.co/liQord5fzi
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 16, 2015
Brauchler said Holmes could not take it when he did poorly on exams at the University of Colorado, and broke up with the only girlfriend he had ever been intimate with.
The prosecution argued that Holmes’ detailed preparations for the attack showed he knew what he was doing, and knew it was wrong. They presented evidence about his purchases of guns, tear gas and body armor. They also showed how he conducted online research into bomb-making so he could booby-trap his apartment before he left for the cinema.
Holmes rigged the bombs and turned loud music on the stereo, hoping someone would open the door and trigger a deadly blast. The devices were later defused by a police bomb squad.
Sobs filled the courtroom during the trial as dozens of wounded survivors testified about hiding behind plastic chairs from the hail of bullets, and stumbling over the bodies of loved ones as they fled the theater.
Brauchler showed photos of the dead during his closing argument. His voice broke and he wiped his eyes.
“That guy, sitting right there,” he said, pointing at Holmes. “He did this.”
— Reuters contributed to this report.
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