Top

blog

Stories

 

James Holmes's attorneys say death penalty is unconstitutional: Read their motions here

james.holmes.looking.to.side.205x205.jpg
James Holmes.
Lawyers for accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes think the state's death penalty laws are unconstitutional -- and they've filed a flurry of motions (some of which are on view below) asking that the judge in the case declare them so.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Holmes, who is accused of murdering twelve people and injuring seventy others by opening fire at the Aurora Century 16 theater in July 2012. Holmes's attorneys have admitted that he was the gunman.

The arguments made by Holmes's attorneys in motions asking that the judge declare Colorado's death penalty law unconstitutional include:

  • That the "class of individuals" eligible for the death penalty is too broad. In Colorado, a person who is convicted of first-degree murder is sentenced to either life in prison or death. Their sentence can depend on whether or not their case contains any "aggravating factors" -- circumstances that increase the severity of a crime. Aggravating factors can include the way in which the murder was committed (if the killer used a bomb, for example) or the reason for the act (such as for money or to avoid an arrest). They can also be based upon the identity of the victim (if the victim was a police officer, a judge, a pregnant woman or a child, for instance).

    Nearly all first-degree murder cases contain at least one aggravating factor, making them eligible for the death penalty, Holmes's attorneys maintain. Their argument is based on a study conducted by University of Denver law professors who looked at every murder case filed in Colorado between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2010. Of the 596 cases, 539 of them contained at least one aggravating factor, according to the study.

    However, prosecutors sought the death penalty in only fifteen cases, Holmes's attorneys wrote. And of those, just three cases ended in a death penalty verdict, resulting in what the attorneys say is an "arbitrary and inconsistent application of the death penalty."

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for george brauchler.jpg
    18th Judicial DA George Brauchler.
  • That over the past ten years, Colorado prosecutors have sought the death penalty in just eleven cases. Eight of those cases, including Holmes's, came out of the 18th Judicial District, where the prosecutors have a reputation for seeking harsh punishments (some would say too harsh) against criminals. "Mr. Holmes urges this court to find that he has a fundamental right to not be put to death pursuant to such an unequal, rare, inconsistently applied, and unusual system," his attorneys wrote.
  • That the Capital Jury Project, a research program launched in 1991 that interviews real jurors about how they made their decisions, has cited problems with the capital sentencing process. Findings include that jurors' own biases play into their decisions, that some jurors incorrectly believe death is required in a capital case and that jurors sometimes make decisions about whether a person deserves death before all of the evidence has been presented. For instance, a CJP study found that nearly half of capital jurors in thirteen states decided the defendant deserved to die before the end of the trial.
  • That "death-qualifying" individual jurors produce juries that are "prone to convict." In capital cases, prospective jurors are asked if they'd be willing to consider all forms of punishment, including the death penalty. If they say "yes," they are death-qualified and eligible to serve on the jury. If they say "no," they are not. Furthermore, Holmes's attorneys cite research that shows death-qualified jurors are more likely to believe in "insanity myths," such as that defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity are immediately released back into society. That could impede Holmes's right to a fair trial, they argue, since he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Prosecutors will now respond to the defense's motions in writing. The motions are scheduled to be debated in court over two weeks in December, and Holmes's trial is slated to start in February 2014.

    Continue to read the motions referenced above, and more.


My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
cottoncandy7225
cottoncandy7225

Kill this crazy good for nothing fk and move on he deserves to die and rot in the pits of hell

Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly

Aw, boo fucking hoo. If Mr. Holmes hadn't decided to kill as many people as he could on July 20, 2012, he wouldn't be facing it right now. Besides, his attorney ought to be smart enough to know that although Colorado has a death penalty, it doesn't actually execute anyone. Just ask Robert Harlan.

dudleycsharp
dudleycsharp

As is obvious, all these motions are nonsense, generated only for delay and additonal cost, as these are issues for the appellate courts, not the trial court and the prosecutor will so respond and the judge will so rule.

Defense counsel can bring all this nonsense up after conviciton, where the courts will rule against them.

Matt Corry
Matt Corry

Even if he where to get the death penalty, our govener would pardon him just like Nathen Dunlap (you know, the guy that walked into a Chucky Cheese and killed a bunch of people. and was found GUILTY). What can be gained from keeping this monster alive?

Latifah Abdul'laah
Latifah Abdul'laah

I can't even read this silliness. How many people did he rob of their constitutional right to enjoy a movie without dying or being shot? For everyone he killed, he denied them the rights of life and the pursuit of happiness. He deserves the punishment he will get....

Ted Peterson
Ted Peterson

He really deserves worse than death, but he doesn't deserve taxpayer support for the rest of his life in the prison. This may sound cold, but he needs to be put down.

James McVaney
James McVaney

I am sure other prison inmates will serve him his death sentences if the courts do not... Remember Jeffry Damher?

Mason T Green
Mason T Green

I will happily concede that there's no way to rehabilitate a monstrous piece of shit like Holmes, but to waste the time and money seeking the death penalty when life in prison without the possibility of parole is in the bag is absurd. Plus, by executing Holmes, we lose the opportunity to study and examine him. And not just psychologically as in the past, but neurologically and genetically. If this opportunity were seized, it could lead to identifying underlying genetic/neurological markers that contribute to assholes like him. That being said, I wouldn't shed any tears if I were the one to throw the switch, depress the plunger, or pull the trigger to make Holmes a past participle.

Jen Suarez
Jen Suarez

don't commit the crime if you're not willing to suffer the consequences of your actions.

Antonio Rubio
Antonio Rubio

The death penalty was made exactly for people like James Holmes (and frankly it will be merciful compared to what he deserves). IMO, the defense attorneys bring up some valid points about issues in how the death penalty is applied (esp. regarding death penalty qualified jurors) but those would apply more in edge cases and not for a premeditated mass murderer like Holmes.

Sean Gronbeck
Sean Gronbeck

This assholes still alive... Thats unfortunate.

Bree Miller
Bree Miller

put him in a dark movie theater and then let all of the victims and families of victims in with automatic weapons and grenades.

Audrey Strong
Audrey Strong

Nice try buddy but go back to get a JD refresher..that argument won't fly.

Doug Smith
Doug Smith

Just put a rope in his cell. Then he'll pull a Castro.

Nando Commando
Nando Commando

Wow, that's reaching. All out of options, huh counselor?

Heather Capri Perro
Heather Capri Perro

If so, so is shooting, killing and injuring innocent people in a movie theatre.. Id call that really unconstitutional.

Jack Gormley
Jack Gormley

Fine. Stick him in a room wallpapered with the faces of his victims 23.5 hours a day. He'll be begging for death.

Chris Vann
Chris Vann

Ain't nothing gonna save that asshole

dudleycsharp
dudleycsharp

The Colorado appellate courts will do everything they can not to allow his execution.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Audrey Strong It's definitely a long shot, Audrey. Thanks for the post.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Fernando Lucero A tough rhetorical question, Fernando. Thanks for posting.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...