CENTENNIAL, Colorado: “Batman” theater gunman James Holmes was found guilty on all charges Thursday—and could now face the death penalty—over the 2012 massacre that left 12 dead and 70 more injured in Colorado.
Judge Carlos Samour took a full hour to read out the verdicts relating to each of the 82 victims hit when Holmes opened fire at a packed midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in the town of Aurora, just outside Denver.
The 27-year-old Holmes, dressed in a blue shirt and cream-colored trousers with his hands in his pockets, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out.
The trial now moves to the sentencing phase, in which prosecutors are calling for Holmes—who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity—to face the death penalty. Jurors will reconvene next Wednesday.
On Thursday, the jury foreman handed over a thick stack of verdict forms, representing the scale of the atrocity: in all, Holmes faced 164 charges of murder and attempted murder, as well as one count of possession of explosives.
There was some relief at the verdicts.
“I felt so much relief and closure,” Jansen Young, whose boyfriend Jon Blunk died trying to protect her from the bullets with his body, was quoted by the Denver Post as saying.
“It’s been a long three years and it’s clearly not over,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, but added: “While it’s been difficult and emotional for everybody, in particular families, we’re happy we’ve reached this point.”
Jurors were relatively quick to reach their verdicts: they only retired to deliberate Wednesday on whether Holmes —who has been in custody since he was arrested outside the theate—was sane when he opened fire.
Insanity plea rejected
The 49-day-long trial included weeks of grisly evidence and testimony from more than 250 witnesses. The jury also was shown hours of videotaped interviews of Holmes by psychiatrists for the state.
Both they and two defense psychiatrists agreed the defendant struggled with mental illness. The state’s psychiatrists however maintained that Holmes was sane when he carried out the rampage.
Samour said Thursday he hoped the punishment phase of the trial would end sometime in August.
If Holmes had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would have been confined to a state mental hospital.