A jury has found Colorado theater shooter James Holmes guilty of murder in the methodically planned attack that left 12 dead and dozens wounded.

James Holmes (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post, Pool via AP)
The verdict means the 27-year-old former neuroscience graduate student could get the death penalty for the 2012 shooting.
Jurors reached their decision Thursday after deliberating for about 13 hours over two days. They must now decide whether Holmes should be executed or sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his attorneys argued he was so addled by mental illness that he was unable to tell right from wrong at the time of the shootings.
Prosecutors maintained the attack was meticulously planned over months and Holmes knew what he was doing.

The verdict comes nearly three years to the day that Holmes slipped into a darkened midnight premiere of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" and opened fire. His attorneys argued that he was in the grips of a psychotic episode.

Jurors heard nearly three months of testimony, including heartbreaking and sometimes gruesome stories from more than 70 survivors who took the stand.

The trial will next enter a sentencing phase in which the jurors will hear testimony and decide whether he should be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole or sentenced to death.Prosecutors focused on the findings of two state-appointed forensic psychiatrists who examined Holmes months and years after the shooting and found him severely mentally ill yet capable of knowing right from wrong and therefore legally sane under Colorado law.

Dozens of investigators testified about the carnage Holmes inflicted and how he rigged his apartment into an elaborate booby trap he hoped would explode and divert first responders from the Aurora theater as he set about the July 20, 2012 attack.

Prosecutors honed in on Holmes' elaborate planning of the massacre. They showed jurors a spiral notebook in which Holmes listed what weapons to buy, which auditoriums in the theater complex would allow for the most casualties, and even an estimated emergency response time to the theater.

Defense attorneys portrayed Holmes as a struggling neuroscience graduate student so addled by mental illness that he was unable to tell right from wrong at the time of the shootings.

They said he suffered schizophrenia, and they called two doctors who said Holmes was in the grips of a psychotic episode when he acted on delusions that propelled him to kill. They called a far shorter list of witnesses, such as doctors and jail guards, who described Holmes' bizarre behavior before and after the attack.

 

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