The Aurora theater shooting trial began April 27, 2015, more than 1,000 days after the tragedy occurred, with defense attorneys trying to convince jurors that the main suspect James Holmes could not tell right from wrong that day.
On Monday, lawyers depicted a clearer picture of Holmes’ mind and his gradual change from a hard-working grad student to a homicidal maniac capable of opening fire in a crowded movie theater at a Dark Night premiere.
Jurors currently have the delicate task of discerning whether the shooting suspect is mentally ill or just plain “evil.”
Prosecution showed the jury an image of the theater entrance as they tried to make a case for Holmes’ sanity when he started the 2012 mayhem. According to prosecutors, the suspect was a sane, calculated mass murderer that decided to kill as many innocent people as he could just to raise his self-esteem and make sure that he won’t be easily forgotten after that day.
DA George Brauchler argued that Holmes simply came to execute a plan on that tragic day. Nothing less, nothing more. He also said that the suspect planned to murder the whole theater just to make himself feel better and become famous. Prosecution also mentioned that two psychiatric examinations found the main suspect sane.
On the other hand, defense pleaded that Holmes was tormented by schizophrenia since 20 experts confirmed the diagnosis.
So, the jury must decide whether Holmes was in his right mind when he entered the theater, released tear gas and managed to shot dead a dozen of people and wound 70 more. He currently faces multiple counts of first-degree and attempted murder, acts of violence and explosives offense.
Holmes’ attorneys hope that jurors would agree with his not-guilty plea by reason of insanity. If that happens, Holmes will escape capital punishment and spend the rest of his life in a mental institution.
In Colorado, a suspect must be proven sane before execution or life imprisonment.
The public defender argued that mental illness was a reality in Holmes’ case, rather than an excuse. He also said that by the time the trial was over, everyone would be convinced that the suspect was affected by a severe mental illness.
Defense attorneys argued that mental disorders ran in the suspect’s family. An aunt was schizophrenic. Holmes was also depicted as a tormented young man since his childhood. He tried to kill himself when he was 11, had “intrusive thoughts” in his adolescence, while his sanity started to deteriorate in his 20s.
Holmes’ lawyers also said that before the shootings, their client was acting under the influence of a deep psychosis and delusional behavior, which made him lose control over his rationality and pushed him into the murderous acts. He saw the murders as a way to set things right, according to defense.
Moreover, the man mailed his therapist his journal before the shootings. The journal was clear evidence that he had lost his minds during those days, defense attorneys argued.
Prosecution, on the other hand, argued that Holmes was fully aware of what he was doing since he sent a series of e-mails to his parents which revealed that he had the ability to reason while he tried to hide his emotional decline. After going to a shooting range several times, he even told an ex-girlfriend that he was practicing to carry out his “evil plan.”
Currently, as there is no doubt that Holmes was the one who pulled the trigger and detonated the explosives, his attorneys try to exonerate him by disputing his state of mind.
Image Source: NBC News