Holmes found guilty in Colorado theater shootings

Posted Jul 17, 2015 by Nathan Salant
Former graduate student James Holmes was convicted Thursday of killing 12 moviegoers and injuring dozens in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in 2012.
TRAGEDY: The Century 16 theater in Aurora  Colo.  is seen the day after 12 moviegoers were shot and ...
TRAGEDY: The Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colo., is seen the day after 12 moviegoers were shot and killed in 2012 by former graduate student James Holmes, who was convicted Thursday of 24 counts of murder.
Algr/Wikimedia Commons
The Centennnial, Colo., jury deliberated 12 hours over two days to determine that Holmes, now 27, was guilty of 24 counts of murder and more than 100 other charges arising from the theater shooting, which disrupted the local debut of a Batman feature film.
The jury rejected defense arguments that Holmes was insane when he meticulously planned the shooting — even trying to figure out which of the mulitiplex theaters offered the maximum carnage — and when he opened fire with three guns on an unsuspecting audience, according to the Associated Press.
Holmes now faces the trial's penalty phase, when the same jury will determine whether he will be sentenced to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole, the news service said.
"We're very happy this animal, this monster, will never see the light of day," said Sandy Ghawi, the mother of one of the slain victims, Jessica Ghawi.
"It feels good to have this weight off our backs," Sandy Ghawl said.
Arapahoe County District Chief Judge Carlos Samour Jr. read all 165 guilty verdicts in around an hour, although the penalty phase of the trial, which begins Wednesday, is expected to last at least a month.
The first guilty verdict was for the death of Jonathan Blunk, a 26-year-old father of two who died trying to shield his girlfriend from Holmes' bullets, and was met by sobs from a courtroom jammed with shooting survivors and families of the victims.
"As soon as you heard the first guilty, we knew all the dominoes were about to fall," said Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex also was killed, the AP said.
Blunk's girlfriend, Jansen Young, said she was relieved by the verdict.
"Justice is here," she said.
The guilt phase of the trial heard from more than 200 witnesses, many of them survivors of the shooting, and lasted 11 weeks.
The jury also heard 22 hours of videotaped psychiatrist interviews with Holmes, who said he wanted to kill strangers to increase his self-worth and felt nothing as he mowed down defenseless theatergoers.
But Holmes also said he wore headphones blasting electronic music to drown out the screams of his victims, the AP said.
Those victims included two active-duty servicemen, a single mom, an aspiring broadcaster who previously survived a mall shooting in Toronto, and several — like Blunk — who died shielding others.
The other slain victims were Alexander Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, John Thomas Larimer, Matthew McQuinn, Alex Sullivan, Alexander Teves, Rebecca Ann Wingo, Medek, and 6-tear-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest.
Mass Shootings in the United States | FindTheBest