AP files, "Prosecutors say they will seek death penalty against Colorado theater shooting suspect," by Dan Elliott. It's via the Washington Post.
Prosecutors on Monday said they will seek the death penalty against the man accused in last year’s movie theater attack that killed 12, wounded 70 and spurred new gun control laws in Colorado.
The much-anticipated disclosure came in a court hearing held four days after prosecutors publicly rejected an offer by James Holmes’ attorneys that the former neuroscience graduate student would plead guilty to avoid execution.
Prosecutors had said the defense proposal wasn’t a valid plea bargain offer, although they could still agree to a plea before the case goes to trial.
Holmes’ attorneys are expected to argue he is not guilty because he was legally insane at the time of the July 20 shooting. They balked at entering that plea last month, saying they couldn’t make such a move until prosecutors made a formal decision on the death penalty.
"Prosecutors will seek death against James Holmes in Aurora theater attack," by John Ingold and Karen Augé for the Denver Post.
Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty against James Holmes in the July 20 attack that killed 12 people and injured 58 others at what was then called the Century Aurora 16 movie theater.
"It is my determination and my intention that in this case, for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death," Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said at a court hearing.
Brauchler said his office consulted with 800 victims before deciding to seek death for Holmes. Holmes appeared to have no reaction. His parents held hands tightly as Brauchler made his announcement.
In a surprise announcement, 18th Judicial District Chief Judge William Sylvester said Monday he has reassigned the Holmes case to Judge Carlos A. Samour.Sylvester cited "logistical demands" and the "enormous consumption of resources" of a death penalty case and his duties as the chief judge for the judicial district.
"Death penalty also on trial in Colorado theater shooting," is the Los Angeles Times report by Jenny Deam.
"There are issues beyond James Holmes here. This case has always been about capital punishment," said Craig Silverman, a former Denver chief deputy district attorney now in private practice who has been closely watching the case.
He is sympathetic to Brauchler's dilemma.
"As crude as it is, there are financial considerations" to a lengthy death penalty case, Silverman said. He points to another high-profile Colorado case in which convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap, the so-called Chuck E. Cheese killer, has been on death row for 19 years and only in February exhausted his appeals when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
But Silverman also acknowledges that because Colorado has capital punishment on its books, Brauchler may feel bound to use it.
"If this case doesn't call for it, what does?" Silverman asked. If the death penalty is not used in a mass shooting that attracts worldwide attention, he wonders, would a future district attorney be reluctant to apply it to a less high-profile case?
Last week, Colorado legislators abandoned an effort to abolish the death penalty after Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, suggested he might veto it. A separate proposal to put the issue on the ballot was also scrapped. It is against this backdrop that the legal squabbling in the Holmes case erupted publicly.
The defense and prosecution are under a gag order, so the bickering has played out in legal filings.
Sunday's Denver Post published on OpEd by District Attorney George H. Brauchler, "Death penalty is a tool of justice."
I am one of the 22 district attorneys in Colorado elected by the members of our respective communities to exercise prosecutorial discretion to obtain justice. Not convictions, incarceration, or even death — justice. The repeal of the death penalty as a discretionary tool used by publicly elected prosecutors creates — in fact, mandates — injustice.
Granted, repeal will not happen in Colorado this year, since the House Judiciary Committee last week killed House Bill 1264. But such a proposal is almost certain to be revived in the years to come.
Colorado's criminal code is crafted to provide DAs the tools to seek justice through prosecuting and plea-bargaining based on numerous factors specific to the individual cases they pursue. It is common sense that a criminal's sentence potentially may be enhanced based on the heinous nature of their act, the number of victims, the age and type of victim, and whether the offender is a repeat offender. A third DUI is punished more harshly than a first. A crime spree involving numerous burglaries leads to a longer sentence than a single break-in. Assaulting a child is more aggravated than the same assault on an adult. A convicted felon who commits a new crime is incarcerated longer than a first-time offender. One size does not fit all. This is justice.
Earlier coverage of the Holmes case begins at the link.