Shooting suspect James Holmes offers to plead guilty

Jason Sickles
The Lookout

[Updated at 6:25 p.m. ET]

The man jailed in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre is willing to plead guilty to avoid being executed, according to a court motion filed on Wednesday.

The offer from James Holmes, who is charged with shooting 70 moviegoers last July, killing 12, means he would spend life in prison without parole.

News of the offer comes five days before prosecutors were scheduled to announce whether they will seek the death penalty in the case.

"The prosecution at this time has not accepted that offer because it may choose to pursue the death penalty. Consequently, it appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty," defense attorneys wrote in the motion, which was published online by the Denver Post. "If the prosecution elects not to pursue the death penalty, it is Mr. Holmes' position that this case could be resolved April 1."

“Yes!” shooting victim Marcus Weaver shouted when Yahoo News told him of Holmes' offer.

Weaver's right shoulder was peppered with gunshot pellets when the heavily armed assailant burst in and opened fire during a midnight showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Rebecca Wingo, one of his best friends, died in the attack.

"Admitting to what he did is doing us all a favor," Weaver said on Wednesday. "Without a long, drawn-out trial, then we can move forward. As a community, it would bring about more healing."

According to the motion, defense attorneys made the plea offer prior to the suspect's arraignment earlier this month. If prosecutors reject the offer, "counsel will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defenses at a trial or sentencing proceeding, as necessary," Holmes' lawyers wrote.

During Holmes' arraignment on March 12, his lead attorney, Daniel King, told Judge William Sylvester that the suspect wasn't prepared to enter a plea because the defense wasn't sure if the prosecution planned to seek the death penalty. Knowing that could alter Holmes' plea and significantly alter how the defense moves forward, King explained.

The judge then entered a plea of not guilty on Holmes' behalf and noted that the defense would have the opportunity to change its plea at a later date.

The prosecution has repeatedly sought input from victims and victims' families on major decisions. Weaver said late on Wednesday that he had not yet heard from the district attorney's office, but he predicted they would be calling soon.

"I'll tell them to take the deal," Weaver told Yahoo News.

Yahoo staff writer Tim Skillern contributed to this story from Denver.