Colorado Theater Shooting: James Holmes Could Plead Guilty to Skirt Death Penalty

Tim Kenneally
March 27, 2013
Colorado Theater Shooting: James Holmes Could Plead Guilty to Skirt Death Penalty

James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens of other during a shooting rampage at a July 2012 screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., could enter a guilty plea to avoid receiving the death penalty.

The Denver Post reports that Holmes' lawyers filed a motion in court Wednesday indicating that Holmes would be open to pleading guilty, in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Also read: Colorado Theater Shooting: Not-Guilty Plea Entered by Judge

"Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," Holmes' attorneys wrote in the motion. "It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty."

It is uncertain whether prosecutors would be willing to accept such a deal.

Earlier this month, Judge William Blair Sylvester entered a not-guilty plea on Holmes' behalf, over the objection of his attorney Daniel King, after Holmes' legal team said they were not prepared to enter a plea. At the time Sylvester said that Holmes can change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity at a later time.

Prosecutors are expected to announce whether they will seek the death penalty at an April 1 hearing on the case. The trial is currently scheduled to begin Aug. 5.

Also read: Colorado Theater Shooting: James Holmes Loses Bid to Have Insanity Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Should prosecutors reject the plea deal, Holmes' attorneys said in the motion that they "will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defenses at a trial or sentencing proceeding."

If his lawyers go with a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and succeed with that defense, Holmes would be placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services rather than be sentenced to prison.

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