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Closing arguments in phase 2 of penalty process for James Holmes in the theater shooting trial

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Jul 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-30 10:34:49-04

On Thursday, both sides will present their closing arguments in phase two of the penalty process, which focuses on mitigating factors.

Jurors have already confirmed they found aggravating factors in the mass shooting for which they convicted the gunman. After closing arguments, the same jurors must decide if the mitigating factors outweigh those factors.

Essentially, jurors will be asked to decide between giving the gunman a life prison sentence or moving on to phase 3 -- the final step toward the deciding on the death penalty.

Holmes was convicted on 165 counts including murder and attempted murder for the shooting that killed 12 and injured 70 others during a midnight premiere of the Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. His defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that he was insane at the time of the shooting. 

 

During phase 2, both of the gunman's parents testified about his childhood and upbringing. They also both testified that they did not foresee their son becoming so violent.

"I didn't realize that his loudest cry for help was his silence," Arlene Holmes said. "He seemed... he was clearly really messed up. His eyes were bulging out," Robert Holmes said about their first visit with their son after his arrest for the mass shooting. "His pupils were dilated. He was able to talk to us, which was good. He told us he loved us, which was good. But I could see there was something really wrong with him."

The defendant's mental health and lack of previous violence have been key elements of the defense team's presentations during this phase.

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