Holmes Jury Asked for Justice – and for Death

DENVER (CN) – James Holmes’ attorney appealed to the jury’s consciences Thursday in asking them to spare the mass murderer’s life, telling them, “This will be the most important decision you may ever make in your life.”
     Public Defender Tamara Brady’s plea for mercy did not impress prosecutor George Brauchler, who asked the jury not to let her argument “play upon your conscience and your guilt.”
     The closing arguments left the jury only 20 minutes to begin deliberating Thursday afternoon before heading home for the night. They must sentence Holmes to death or life in prison for murdering 12 people and wounding 70 at a midnight premier of a Batman movie in an Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012.
     The public defender went first.
     “I am going to be emotional and I am going to be passionate,” Brady said. “Because the weight of a man’s life is in my hands right now until I hand it over to you. And you know what it feels like to have the weight of someone’s life in your hands. That is a passionate and emotional thing and I will not apologize to you about being emotional and passionate. I will not.”
     Brady and four colleagues spent the 15 weeks of Holmes’ trial trying to persuade the nine women and six men on the jury to spare Holmes from death because his schizophrenia made him legally insane.
     Brady concentrated on mercy in her 40-minute closing argument, and, perhaps audaciously, tried to put the burden for the mass murder on the jury’s consciences.
     “The measure of our soul is in how we treat people who are sick and who are damaged,” Brady said. “James Holmes is sick and he is damaged. And if you choose to bestow mercy on James Holmes it’s not because he earned it. It’s not because he deserves it. Mercy is not something that’s earned or deserved. It’s something that’s bestowed by the person who gives it. Mercy says more about you than it says about him.”
     She asked the jury to “rise above all over this tragedy” and “not to make decisions in an emotional state.”
     “When you wake up in the middle of the night and you think about this case, it’s just you, and you answer only to you,” Brady said. “And you answer only to your own conscience.”
     District Attorney Brauchler, who is known for his closing arguments, addressed Brady’s plea head on.
     “Could someone argue to you, mercy? Mercy! That mercy’s about the giver, not the receiver? Could they play upon your conscience and your guilt and make a life sentence appropriate for what he’s done?”
     Brauchler flipped through slides showing photos of the 12 people Holmes killed, ending with his youngest victim, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan. Her mother, who was paralyzed in the shooting, was the last person to give a victim statement on Wednesday.
     “Veronica Moser-Sullivan,” Brauchler said. “Forever six. Never made it to first grade. And a mother who sat here to tell you that she’s lost, she doesn’t know who she is anymore. That she used to be a mother when she was 18. Now she’s not anymore.
     “Four times. He shot her four times.
     “He came there for them all. The 700 rounds [of ammunition], that gas mask and that 12-gauge shotgun. He stops pulling the trigger only because the trigger stopped working. Does that get a life sentence?”
     “Remember too, that he predicted a life sentence,” Brauchler said, reminding the jury of Holmes’ Match.com profile, which asked, “Will you visit me in prison?” before he committed the murders.
     “He planned for it. Head to toe, fingers included. There wasn’t a millimeter of flesh exposed to any possible pain or injury. He made sure that on July 20 one person and one person alone would be guaranteed to survive – and that was him. He predicted it. He planned for it. He wants it. Does this and everything else warrant a life sentence?
     “That’s not justice. That’s not a reasonable moral determination.
     “For James E. Holmes, justice is death. It’s death.”
     Both attorneys were given 40 minutes for their arguments.
     The jury returned Friday to deliberate.

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