The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 1, 2013

Colorado prosecutors seeking death penalty for Holmes

CENTENNIAL, Col. —  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.

“It’s my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes justice is death,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said at the Monday hearing. He spoke quietly and deliberately without any hesitation.

There was no audible reaction from Holmes, who sat in court with his back to reporters.

Holmes’ parents sat side by side in the gallery, clutching hands with fingers intertwined.

They were also quiet, as were the victims in the courtroom when Brauchler disclosed his decision, which he said he had shared with no one.

He said he had personally discussed the case with 60 people who lost relatives in the shooting, Overall, prosecutors have consulted with 800 victims and relatives.

Bryan Beard, whose best friend Alex Sullivan was killed in the attack, was in an overflow courtroom during the announcement.

“I had a huge adrenaline rush,” he said. “I love the choice, I love it, I love it ... I hope I’m in the room when he dies.”

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.

Investigators say Holmes methodically stockpiled weapons and ammunition for his assault on a packed midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” and booby-trapped his apartment to explode and distract any police who responded.

Last week, prosecutors said they had rejected an offer from Holmes’ attorney to have him plead guilty and serve life in prison, saying the offer wasn’t a serious attempt at plea bargaining. They accused the defense of trying to gin up public support for a plea deal.

In a sign of how long the case could drag on, District Judge William Sylvester on Monday named a new judge — Carlos A. Samour Jr. — to take over the case. As chief judge for the district, Sylvester is responsible for the overall running of the court. He said he couldn’t do that and oversee a complicated death penalty case.

In his order, Sylvester said “a final resolution of this case is now likely years away.”

The timeline disturbed victims.

“It could be 10 or 15 years before he’s executed,” said Pierce O’Farrill, who was shot three times in the attack. “I would be in my 40s, and I’m planning to have a family, and the thought of having to look back and reliving everything at that point in my life, it would be difficult.”

If prosecutors do eventually accept a deal, they will want to ensure that it’s air-tight, said Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor who is now an adjunct professor at the University of Denver law school.

Holmes would give up his right to appeal by pleading guilty, she said. And although he could ask to change the plea if new evidence surfaces or if he claimed his lawyers were ineffective, “it’s very, very hard to withdraw it,” she said.

The judge would want assurances from defense lawyers that Holmes is mentally competent to plead guilty and accept a life sentence with no parole, Steinhauser said.

The judge could order a mental competency evaluation before accepting a guilty plea, but Steinhauser said that’s unlikely unless Holmes showed some sign of incompetence.

The theater massacre was repeatedly cited by gun control advocates who pushed a hotly contested package through the Colorado state Legislature last month. The bills include a ban on the sort of high-capacity magazines that Holmes allegedly used to spray the theater with dozens of bullets in a matter of seconds.

President Obama is scheduled to visit Denver on Wednesday to highlight the legislation as part of his push for more gun control following December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

 

1
Text Only
News
  • Donations to Budd family near $60,000

    SHAMOKIN DAM — The Valley continues to give as fundraisers keep forming and donations steadily pour in for the Budd family, of Ohio, while Sharon Budd continues her fight back from drastic injuries suffered when a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass in Union County slammed through the windshield of the family’s vehicle three weeks ago.

    July 30, 2014

  • B-17 fly-over to honor 'Dutch' VanKirk

    NORTHUMBERLAND — A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will soar in honor of the late Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk during his graveside services Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • dogs31.jpg Is Spike spiteful?

    Dog is often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows he may be a little green over how much time you spend with other pooches.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.