Colorado Movie Theater Massacre

If theater shooter gets death, execution could take decades


Passers-by move past a row of crosses erected for the 12 victims of the massacre in a nearby movie theatre and to mark the day of the third anniversary of the killing spree, Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Passers-by move past a row of crosses erected for the 12 victims of the massacre in a nearby movie theatre and to mark the day of the third anniversary of the killing spree, Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Even if Colorado theater shooter James Holmes is sentenced to death, he could spend the rest of his life in prison awaiting an execution that never happens.

Colorado has executed just one prisoner in nearly a half-century, and just three people are on death row. The state’s Democratic governor gave one of them an indefinite reprieve, 20 years after his conviction and just months before he was set to die.

The same jurors who convicted Holmes of killing 12 people and injuring 70 more at a crowded midnight movie premiere must soon decide whether he should pay with his life. But lengthy appeals and Colorado’s uneasy relationship with the death penalty means death row inmates spend decades in prison before they are executed.

Holmes’ mental illness means his appeals could be even more complex.

SADIE GURMAN

Source: AP

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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