Colorado prosecutors said Monday they plan to seek the death penalty in the case against James Holmes, the suspect behind the Colorado movie theater attack that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured last summer.
Holmes has been charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder, and other offenses in the July 20 attack at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, a suburb of Denver. He surrendered to police shortly after the shooting spree.
“Given all the input I considered and all the information available, it is my intent that justice for James Holmes is death,” said George Brauchler, the district attorney for Arapahoe County.
He told the court the decision came after speaking with more hundreds of victims and family members.
While not mentioning Holmes by name, Brauchler wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Denver Post over the weekend, arguing capital punishment serves as a necessary “tool to achieve justice.” The last time the state of Colorado executed a person was 1997.
Last week, prosecutors rejected plea bargain from Holmes’ defense team. They had offered to plead guilty in return for life in prison.
Attorneys defending Holmes are expected to make the case he was legally insane.
After Holmes lawyers said they were not ready to plead last month, Judge William Sylvester of the Colorado circuit court entered a plea of “not guilty” on Holmes’ behalf.
The two sides could still reach a deal before the trial begins. It was scheduled for August, but on Monday the judge pushed back the trial start date to Feb. 3, 2014.
President Obama is scheduled to visit Denver Wednesday in an effort to continue to press for new gun control legislation.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that 70 people were injured in the July 20 shooting, but NBC News reports the number of injured is 58.