Jury decides James Holmes still eligible for death penalty

James Holmes could still face the death penalty after a jury unanimously agreed on Monday that aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors for all of the murder charges for which he was convicted.

That means that a third and final phase of sentencing will happen to determine whether he gets sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 in a Colorado movie theater in 2012.

Holmes was convicted of 24 counts of murder in the first degree — two for each victim — in July.

Jurors began deliberating Thursday on the second phase of how to proceed with sentencing.

Prosecutors had argued that the jury should continue to death penalty proceedings which would be a final, third phase under Colorado law. Holmes’ attorneys urged the jury to give Holmes a life sentence and end the months-long trial.

His attorneys have said that his schizophrenia mitigated the capital crimes for which he was convicted.

Holmes had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and when the jury declared his guilt he showed no reaction.

By virtue of his insanity plea, Holmes never denied he was responsible for the slayings.

Three dozen witnesses have testified during this sentencing phase, including James Holmes’ parents and sister. Relatives of those killed inside the theater will be allowed to testify in the third phase.

Holmes, 27, is a former neuroscience doctoral student.

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