CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The latest in the sentencing phase of the Colorado theater shooting trial (all times local):
Colorado theater shooter James Holmes has been formally sentenced to life in prison. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. had no other option after a split jury decided the sentence earlier this month. A death sentence required a unanimous jury verdict. Samour sentenced Holmes Wednesday after two days of testimony from about 100 survivors of the 2012 massacre. Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 by firing upon a midnight movie showing of a Batman film.
His attorneys argued that Holmes, who had just dropped out of a prestigious graduate neuroscience program, was gripped by a psychotic episode when he opened fire. Prosecutors emphasized Holmes’ elaborate planning for the attack. He stockpiled guns and ammunition and methodically mapped out the Aurora theater complex to determine which auditorium would allow for the most casualties.
The judge sentencing Colorado theater shooter James Holmes issued a withering condemnation of a man he said quit on his friends, his family and his life — and decided that if he was quitting, he was taking people with him.
Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. on Wednesday condemned Holmes’ “unthinkable” crimes. And he said no words could adequately capture the continuing horror from Holmes’ “evil” act in July 2012 that killed 12 people and injured 70.
Samour noted that “before this trial, I had never seen a police officer or a first responder break down on the witness stand.”
He added: “There is no punishment in this world that could equal … the defendant’s horrific crimes.”
Samour was to formally sentence Holmes to life without parole after a jury convicted Holmes of numerous murder and attempted murder charges and decided he should serve the rest of his days in prison.
The judge in the Colorado theater shooting case has given a spirited rebuttal to victims who complained in recent days that James Holmes will get a cushy life behind bars. Judge Carlos A. Samour said Wednesday that Holmes will be in prison with dangerous criminals. He says prison can’t be compared to a “four-star hotel.”
Samour also told victims and survivors that it’s unclear where Holmes will spend his life sentence without parole, but he noted it might be a state other than Colorado.
Samour will be handing down final sentences for Holmes during Wednesday’s hearing. Holmes has already been sentenced to 12 life terms for murder in the 2012 attack, but he also has to be sentenced for dozens of attempted murder and weapons charges.
The Colorado theater shooter has no chance of getting released for good behavior.
But the judge giving him his final sentence Wednesday had to read that possibility anyway.
Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. was reading generic sentencing language before handing down Holmes’ term on more than 100 criminal convictions, from attempted murder to weapons charges.
A jury already has given Holmes 12 life sentences without parole for the people he killed in a mass movie theater attack in 2012. The language included a reminder that the guilty could be released early for good behavior. After reading the language, Samour added a note to the crowd: He reminded the victims and survivors that early release isn’t really a possibility for Holmes, but that the language must be read by law.
Victims and survivors of the Colorado movie theater attack are filing in somberly for the final day in court for shooter James Holmes. Holmes has already been sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering 12 people when he opened fire on a suburban Denver movie theater in 2012. But the final sentencing comes Wednesday morning, when Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. sentences him on more than 100 other criminal convictions, from attempted murder to weapons charges. The conclusion of the three-day final sentencing hearing is a formality. But it gave scores of victims an unprecedented chance to tell the judge how the bloodbath has affected them over the last three years.