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Defense Attorneys in Movie Theater Shooting Case Accuse Prosecutor of Political Moves
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The twelve victims of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting.

Summary: Defense attorneys for James Holmes complain that seeking the death penalty is politically motivated and unjustified.

Jury selection is well underway in the trial of James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the Aurora, Colorado theater killings. According to the ABA Journal, some of Holmes’ attorneys feel that the prosecutor’s pursuit of the death penalty is motivated by political reasons.


In the spring of 2013, prosecutors announced they would be seeking the death penalty.

On July 20, 2012, law enforcement alleges that Holmes walked into a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises and began shooting. According to Wikipedia, Holmes propped open an exit door to the theater, retrieved multiple firearms from his vehicle, re-entered the theater, and set off some sort of gas canisters before he began shooting. Twelve people were killed, and another seventy were injured.

George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney on the case, would not offer a plea bargain that would send Holmes to a prison mental institution for the rest of his life—without the possibility of ever being released on parole.

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Apparently, some of the victims of the shooting were being harassed.

Dan Recht, a defense attorney from Denver, said, “That insistence upon the death penalty certainly seems politically motivated. [Brauchler] may well believe that his insistence on trying to execute Holmes would shore up his conservative base.”

Brauchler was elected as the district attorney in 2012, and was an Army JAG before joining the government office. He has gained the support of the Republican Party in Colorado since he was elected. Brauchler allegedly criticized Governor John Hickenlooper for suspending the death penalty of a murder defendant who was convicted in Arapahoe County. Many Republicans wanted to see Brauchler run against Hickenlooper in 2014, but Brauchler decided to concentrate on the Holmes case instead.

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Brauchler insists he is focused on justice, not being perceived as tough. Last year, Brauchler’s office agreed to allow a murder defendant plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The defendant was committed.

Jury selection could take months. The county has summoned 9,000 potential jurors. However, 2,000 summonses were returned for being undeliverable. According to Fox News, it’s the largest jury pool in the history of the United States.

Both Holmes’ defense team and Holmes’ parents have maintained that Holmes should be acquitted due to mental illness. This issue will likely be contested at the trial.

Read about the plea of Holmes’ parents here.

Source: ABA Journal

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