Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Colorado theater shooting suspect may offer guilty plea

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Defense lawyers for James Holmes, who is charged with killing 12 people and wounding dozens more at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last summer, signaled in court filings Wednesday that they are willing to have Holmes plead guilty if he is spared the death penalty.

Holmes, who faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges, will accept a sentence of life in prison without parole if prosecutors consent to the deal, his lawyers stated in the documents that were filed in Arapahoe County District Court.

"Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," his defense lawyers wrote. "It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty."

Prosecutors are scheduled to announce at a hearing Monday whether they intend to pursue the death penalty, and they have said they would consult with the victims' families first.

Holmes' lawyers said that if no deal is reached, they are prepared to go to trial and are still mulling the possibility that they might pursue an insanity defense.

Holmes, a former graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Denver, is charged with opening fire on the audience at an Aurora movie theater during a packed midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. Moments after the shooting, he was arrested by police in the theater parking lot, cloaked in body armor and wearing a gas mask and a helmet.

At a preliminary hearing in January, prosecutors presented three days of testimony from police and federal agents who said that Holmes had meticulously plotted the attack, one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

A spokesman for the district attorney's office in Arapahoe County declined to comment on the plea offer.

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