Death Penalty An Option for Colorado Theater Shooter

Jury Reaches Verdict in 1st Phase Colorado Theater Shooting

Will James Holmes be executed?

Does Michigan still have the death penalty?

It doesn’t seem that long ago when the news was filled with the mass shooting that occurred during a midnight showing of the movie, Dark Night Rises. It was the kind of crime that made many Americans think, that could have been me, that could have been my child.

Now, three years later, James Holmes is facing the death penalty.

About That Night at the Theater

According to an article by CNN, on July 20, 2012, James Holmes was dressed as “the joker” and opened fire on 400 people in a movie theater. Twelve people were killed, including a 6-year-old girl and 70 people were injured.

Yahoo News reported that only 12 people were killed due to the assault raffle jamming.

When police tried to enter the apartment of James Holmes, they found it to be rigged with explosives. The CNN article reports that 5 buildings around the apartment had to be evacuated.

Heinous, Depraved, and Cruel

The Huffington Post reported that the jurors believe the crime is so “heinous, depraved and cruel that it deserves the death penalty.

CBS News reported,

“They (the jurors) said capital punishment is justified because Holmes murdered a large number of victims; caused a grave risk of death to others; committed murder in a heinous, cruel or depraved manner; and laid in wait or ambush.”

One piece that prosecutors were unable to prove was that Holmes had intentionally killed a child. According to the article by The Huffington Post, there was a video that showed Holmes asking the police, “There weren’t any children hurt, were there?

The jury did not accept Holmes plea that he was legally insane. Now, the defense attorney is asking jurors to consider his mental illness as they consider his sentence.

ABC News quoted Rebekka Higgs saying, “The fact remains that if he were not mentally ill, the crime never would have happened.”

The Next Phase

The next part of the trial will be more about Holmes. There will be more talk about mental illness. The jurors will have weigh Holmes’ mental illness and the horrific crime he committed.

This phase of the trial started on Wednesday and will likely continue for another month.

Does Michigan Still Have the Death Penalty?

Michigan’s history with the death penalty is complicated.

In an article I wrote about Michigan’s history with the death penalty, we learned that Michigan was the first English speaking government in the entire world by statute in 1846 to end sentencing the death penalty for crimes like murder and “lesser” crimes.

In 1964, Michigan made the death penalty unconditional.

What I mean by “Michigan’s history with the death penalty is complicated” is that the execution of an innocent man, the executions of an unnamed slave, and the execution of a woman who was promise freedom.

Those are 3 of the 13 people who have been executed in Michigan. What spawned Michigan residents’ aversion to capital punishment was another man’s story. You can read his story and why it affected so many here.

Take Away

Whether or not James Holmes will be sentenced to the death is yet to be seen. What would you do if you were a juror? If you were a juror, what would you sentence him to be executed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For the history of the Colorado Shootings, you may also like to read: