Colorado gunman likely to face minimum life, maximum death
MOSCOW, July 25 - RAPSI, Ingrid Burke. Alleged Colorado theater gunman James Holmes' sentencing options will range between a minimum of life imprisonment and a maximum of the death penalty if charged with and convicted of first degree murder, according to sentencing guidelines provided by the Colorado District Attorneys' office.
Holmes is suspected of having carried out a mass shooting that left 12 dead and upwards of 50 injured during a midnight screening of Batman: the Dark Knight Rises last Friday.
At a press conference held after Holmes' advisement hearing Monday, the raw footage of which has been made available by PBS, District Attorney Carol Chambers told representatives of the media that, "The charges on which the court found probable cause included first degree murder." In Colorado, first degree murder qualifies as a Class 1 felony. According to sentencing guidelines, if charged with and convicted of the Class 1 felony, Holmes will face at minimum, life imprisonment, and at maximum, the death penalty.
When asked where she stands on seeking the death penalty, Chambers explained, "I don't think that that's a case that can be made in the abstract. There's so much that victims have to take into account. And Victims will be impacted by that decision in an enormous way for years.... We will want to get [the victims'] input before we make any kind of a decision on that."
Ahead of the proceeding, the court issued an order denying an expanded media coverage request for the hearing filed jointly by the Denver Post, KUSA-9 News, and Colorado Public Radio. After the petitioners filed the claim, Holmes' attorney countered with an objection that has not yet been made available to the public. According to an order released by the court Tuesday, the presiding judge considered the grounds of the objection, as well as "[w]hether there is a reasonable likelihood that expanded media coverage would interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial; whether there is a reasonable likelihood that expanded media coverage would unduly detract from the solemnity, decorum and dignity of the court; and whether expanded media coverage would create adverse effects which would be greater than those caused by traditional media coverage." After weighing all of these factors, the court denied the petitioners' motion.
In the short time since Holmes' arrest early Friday morning, the court has made clear its concern that this case will spiral into a media firestorm. On Monday, the court issued a pretrial publicity order, thus imposing strict regulations on interactions that lawyers for both parties are permitted to have with representatives of the media. On Friday, the court issued two orders: one cautiously granting expanded media coverage of Holmes' Monday advisement proceedings, and one sealing investigative records compiled by law enforcement agents.
Pretrial proceedings for the case of the People of the State of Colorado v. James Holmes are currently underway in the Arapahoe County Court for the 18th judicial district. Colorado District Attorney Carol Chambers and public defender Tamara Brady are presently heading the prosecution and defense, respectively.