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Jury keeps death penalty as option for Colorado movie gunman

Updated: 2015-08-04 09:40


The jurors had already rejected Holmes' insanity plea and found him guilty on all 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and explosives charges relating to the mass shooting inside the Century 16 multiplex in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

They had also determined there were proven aggravating factors that could justify the death penalty. During the next phase of the trial, prosecutors have said they expect to call 15 victims to testify over two or three days.

Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was among the dozen whom Holmes killed when he opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle, shotgun and pistol, is due to testify on Tuesday.

"We're very happy the outcome came as quickly as it did," Phillips told reporters outside court after the verdict.

Throughout the trial, she has carried a green shawl that belonged to her daughter. She said she will have it with her when she takes the witness stand.

"My job is to share Jessi with the jury," Phillips said.

During closing arguments by both sides last Thursday, the defense had argued that Holmes is "obviously" mentally ill and that his delusions, not hatred or a lust for notoriety, led him to plan and carry out the rampage.

The prosecution said Holmes took a decision to massacre, then hid his preparations from everyone. He must not be allowed to use mental illness as a "shield," the district attorney said.

The jurors found the prosecution proved Holmes' crimes were committed in a particularly cruel, depraved or heinous manner, including that he carried them out from a position of "ambush," using teargas to try to stop his victims leaving the theater.

They then heard mitigating witnesses who were called by the gunman's attorneys and who described him as a quiet child who was never in trouble growing up.

They also heard from Holmes' sister and his parents, who said they still loved him and blamed mental illness for what he did.

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