James Holmes desperately wants to stay alive, even if it means spending the rest of his life in jail with no chance of ever seeing the free world again. The Associated Press and Denver Post report Holmes's lawyers filed a motion in court Wednesday offering a guilty plea deal — acknowledging that the mass shooter is willing to spend life in prison without a chance for parole if it means avoiding the death penalty. "Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," the defense lawyers wrote in their motion, which could get an answer by early next week.
Holmes faces a total of 166 charges of murder and attempted murder for opening fire on a crowd attending a midnight showing of The Dark Night Rises last July at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring at least 58 others.
Earlier this month, Holmes lawyers' told a judge they were undecided about which direction they would take on plea bargain, so the judge was forced to enter an automatic not guilty plea on their behalf, effectively buying them more time. The lawyers had been expected to enter an insanity plea, so this offer to spend life in prison has come as a bit of a shock.
Right now, it's unclear whether the prosecution will take Holmes up on the offer. They're set to announce whether or not they're going to seek the death penalty on Monday. Right now, the prosecution has declined to comment while they speak with victims' families to gauge their opinion on which way to go. "It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty," Holmes's lawyers said. Should the prosecution not accept the deal and choose to pursue the death penalty, Holmes's lawyers said they would explore all their defense options and alluded to mounting a mental health defense. As we've explained before, because of Colorado law, the defense stands a good chance of succeeding if they do. The burden of proof establishing a defendant's sanity falls to the prosecution in Colorado, which is the opposite of how most states work. The defense usually has to prove the client insane, not the other way around.
For now, we must wait until Monday to see what direction the prosecution decides to take.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.