The Latest: Closing arguments start in theater shooting
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — The latest in closing arguments in the Colorado theater shooting case (all times local):
The prosecution has begun its closing arguments in the death penalty trial of Colorado theater gunman James Holmes after making some last-minute changes following defense objections to the presentation.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 others in the July 2012 shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater.
Prosecutors say Holmes carefully planned the attack, and they want jurors to convict him of multiple murder counts. They also are seeking the death penalty.
Holmes’ attorneys argue he was gripped by a psychotic episode and didn’t know right from wrong. If the jury agrees, Holmes would be committed indefinitely to the state mental hospital.
Closing arguments in the Colorado theater shooting case are being delayed a bit as the judge considers the defense’s objection to statements the prosecution plans to make.
Defense lawyer Daniel King objected to a number of District Attorney George Brauchler’s planned arguments, including that the defense-hired experts who found James Holmes was insane at the time of the July 20, 2012, attack were “malleable.” He also objected to prosecutors’ plans to juxtapose images of wounded people with Holmes’ statements to a psychiatrist that the people he hurt but didn’t kill were “collateral damage.”
Throughout the 2½-month trial, the defense has raised numerous objections to try to limit the amount of emotional evidence presented by prosecutors and to keep the focus on Holmes’ sanity at the time of the attack.
Dozens of Colorado theater shooting victims and family members are in court for closing arguments in the case. Some wept as the judge read the names of the dead and wounded while he gave jurors instructions on how to deliberate. Sandy Phillips wore a green scarf that belonged to her daughter, Jessica Ghawi, who was killed. Caren and Tom Teves, whose son Alex was also among the dead, sat together holding hands.
Holmes’ parents, Robert and Arlene Holmes, sat on the opposite side of the courtroom from the victims. Seated with them was Bob Autobee, who spoke out against the death penalty after his son, a Colorado prison guard, was killed by an inmate. He shook Robert Holmes’ hand and hugged Arlene Holmes.
The judge in the Colorado theater shooting trial says jurors must distinguish between mental disease and passion growing out of anger in deciding whether James Holmes should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at a packed movie theater in July 2012.
Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. reminded jurors that prosecutors have the burden to prove that Holmes was legally sane and knew right from wrong when he committed the attack. Samour told them that Holmes would be sent to the state mental hospital if they find him not guilty by reason of insanity and that he wouldn’t face further prosecution.
In giving the jury its instructions, Samour read the names of each victim as he went over the charges.
The judge in the Colorado theater shooting trial is instructing jurors on how they should deliberate the fate of gunman James Holmes in advance of closing arguments.
Judge Carlos A. Samour is expected to take about an hour to go over the directions Tuesday in the court in suburban Denver.
After that, prosecutors and then Holmes’ lawyers will get their final chance to tell jurors about whether Holmes should be found guilty of multiple counts of murder, or not guilty by reason of insanity. The attack nearly three years ago killed 12 people and injured 70 others.
Deliberations aren’t expected to start until Wednesday.
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