CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Deliberations have started as jurors in the Aurora theater shooting trail will decide between life in prison or death. Those are the only two options for defendant James Holmes in the sentencing phase of the trial.
The jury deliberated a little over an hour on Thursday before going home. They heard a strong appeal for life on one side, death on the other. It was the last chance to appeal to the jury.
“This building that we’re in is not the Arapahoe County Eye for an Eye Center, or Revenge Center, or Vengeance Center. It is a justice center,” District Attorney George Brauchler said.
He reminded the jurors that the defendant chose the time place and manner of death.
“They did not pick him, he picked them,” Brauchler said.
Earlier in the trial the defense had claimed Holmes did not pick schizophrenia, it picked it him and ran in his family.
“What logic dictates that son of Bob and Arlene Holmes should suffer execution for it?” defense attorney Tamara Brady said.
The defense pinned its hopes on finding just one juror who would not put a mentally ill man to death.
“How many doctors from how far across the United States in how many different specialties do we need to bring you to convince you that he’s seriously mentally ill?” Brady said. “Justice without mercy is raw vengeance. Mercy is what makes us civilized.”
Holmes sat quietly as Brady said he was being demonized.
“It is easier to ask you to kill a monster than it is a sick human being,” Brady said.
She pleaded for the jurors asking for a moral decision — for mercy.
“Do I sign my name on the death warrant of a mentally ill person?” Brady said.
She said someone who committed the crime for fun, pleasure or no reason might be more morally culpable.
Pictures of the victims once again echoed on the TV screen to remind the jurors of those who died.
“For James Eagan Holmes justice is death,” Brauchler said.
Family members of the victims who filled one side of the courtroom got up and walked out as the defense began its closing arguments.
“I don’t know if (walking out) is so much a message to the jury as it is the fact that for these people, these family members to sit there and listen to an attorney ask for mercy for the person who has devastated their lives is a very, very difficult thing for these people to do,” CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said.
A lot of people think the jury is on the path towards the death penalty, but Steinhauser said that’s not necessarily true.
“I don’t think we can say that at this point. The decision that the jurors now have to make is the most difficult that any jurors in this country ever have to make in our criminal justice system,” Steinhauser said. “And that is the decision of whether another human being lives or dies.”
The jury will be back Friday morning to continue deliberation.