Judge set to sentence Colorado theater shooter to life

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Aurora Shooting Prosecutor George Brauchler: The James Holmes Trial ‘Will Always Stay with Me’.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – The mother of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes gave an impromptu public apology Tuesday, telling a judge during his sentencing hearing that her son feels remorse but his mental illness and medications made it hard for him to express it.

CENTENNIAL — After more than three years of anxious waiting and legal maneuvering and unfiltered heartache, the Aurora movie theater murder case will end Wednesday in Arapahoe County District courtroom 201. We can only listen. … And we pray for you,” she said through tears. “We are very sorry this tragedy happened and sorry everyone has suffered so much.” Standing at a lectern with her husband, Robert, by her side, she told Judge Carlos A. For George Brauchler, the case is that of James Holmes, the man who opened fire in a crowded movie theater during a 2012 showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Samour on Wednesday will formally sentence Holmes to life in prison without parole for the murders of 12 people and up to 3,318 additional years on attempted murder and an explosives conviction.

Talking with PEOPLE in a candid interview, Brauchler reflects on the high-profile trial. “This case will always stick with me,” he says. “It’s the most disturbing and significant case that I have prosecuted. The remaining counts could bring as many as 3,300 additional years in prison — a statement about the gravity of his crime and the permanency of his punishment, a prison term that could reach as far into the future as the Egyptian pharaohs existed in the past. Defense attorney Daniel King said Tuesday Holmes will not appeal his conviction, sparing victims the possibility of another emotionally wrenching trial. More than 100 victims, free to vent their feelings during the three-day sentencing hearing, described haunting flashbacks, relentless survivor’s guilt and physical pain that endures three years after the shooting.

And they called for the judge to implement the harshest possible sentence when they recalled the night of the shooting. “I am not proud I didn’t know more about mental illness. Their statements, some quiet and reflective, some laced with anger and frustration, gave a glimpse into the far-reaching impact of the massacre on the community and beyond. FBI Special Agent Jeremy Phelps said he will never forget the sounds and smells of chaos when he stepped inside the theater where bodies lay amid popcorn and spent bullet shells. “These innocent victims were there to enjoy a movie, and one guy decided human life meant nothing,” said Aurora police Detective Craig Appel, who was among the first to interview Holmes.

He and other detectives, hardened by years of investigations, still struggle to understand the massacre. “I had to think, what kind of a person could hurt so many people? Others asked that he disappear. “My hope is that today is a new beginning,” said Michael Burris, whose sister, Rebecca Wingo, was killed in the attack, “and I finally get to lay down my hate and, not forgive him, but forget him.” Two of the last people to speak were mothers, one followed minutes later by the other, both rising to speak about their sons but for very different reasons. For Terry Sullivan, the moment was one final chance to tell the judge about her slain son, Alex, who gave the most delightfully suffocating hugs she has ever experienced. Now, she said, when she looks at strangers in public with Alex’s enormous build, she finds herself wondering if they could give her the same kind of hug.

I’m not a mom anymore.’ That hit me hard.” “Just her alone as a victim was traumatic,” Brauchler says, “but there were 11 other people killed and 70 more injured. The scope of the killing was incredible.” Brauchler is quick to say that the killing wasn’t “random” in the strictest sense of the word. “The victims were random; he didn’t know them, he didn’t want to kill those particular people. He was intentional about what he did.” “He made a conscious, deliberate decision to do wrong,” he says, his voice rising slightly. “He knew it was wrong. John Gerhauser, whose best friend, Jonathan Blunk, was killed, told the judge: “If I were in charge, I’d say, this guy has to finish his Ph.D. and do something good for humanity or his death sentence will be reconsidered.” He knew he was murdering human beings, and he wanted to do it because he wanted to be evil.” “Of course there are issues of weapons and mental health,” he says. “But that wasn’t my job.

He got his due process.” “It has changed me in many ways,” he says. “I look at life as even more fragile now, and that’s even after I was deployed to Iraq.

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