The jury deciding whether Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes should be sentenced to death ended deliberations Friday after it became apparent one juror would not budge from her opposition to a death sentence, a juror told reporters.
Because the jury could not reach a unanimous decision, Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for opening fire during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and wounding 70 others.
“We ended our deliberations when one absolutely would not move,” the juror, who only identified herself as “juror 17,” told reporters after the verdict Friday. Two other jurors were “on the fence” about the death penalty, she said.
The jury rejected arguments from Holmes’ defense attorneys that he was legally insane when he carried out the attack and found him guilty of 24 counts of murder — two for each person he killed. Holmes’ lawyers then argued it would be inhumane to execute a man who suffered from mental illness.
Juror 17 said the issue of mental illness appeared to be the reason the juror refused to vote to sentence Holmes to death. “There was no other concern,” she said.
District Attorney George Brauchler said Friday that he was disappointed when the verdicts were read. He apologized to the families of the victims, but several relatives said at a news conference that he did all he could to secure a death sentence, and they appreciated his efforts.
“I still think death is justice for what that guy did, but the system said otherwise,” Brauchler said. “I honor that, and I’ll respect that outcome.”
Juror 17 said the jury tried to reach a unanimous decision. The jury had less instructions than in previous decisions, leaving the issue more up to jurors’ personal values and morals, she said. Earlier Friday, another juror asked to see video of the crime scene, which Juror 17 believes may have been an attempt to sway the juror opposed to a death sentence.
Juror 17 said some of the images shown during the months long trial will be hard to forget. The trial lasted 65 days and involved more than 300 witnesses and thousands of pieces of evidence. “It was very emotionally difficult,” she said.
“I feel that we really truly did our best to come to a proper verdict,” she said. Formal sentencing is set to begin on Aug. 24, and is expected to last three days.