VERDICT read at 2:30 ET: Jurors unanimously agree that the mitigating evidence does NOT outweigh the aggravating evidence. This was their verdict for each of the 24 murder counts.
Jurors return at 10 am tomorrow (8/4/15) for Phase 3 of the sentencing hearing. This phase will include victim impact statements. The State believes it will take two to three days.
Jurors return to court after a long weekend in the Colorado Theater Shooting Trial. Today will be their first full day of deliberations in phase two of the sentencing hearing. The panel of nine women and three men is deciding whether the mitigating evidence outweighs the aggravating evidence. If only one juror says yes to the question, then the case is finished, and Holmes will receive a sentence of life without parole. If the jury unanimously decides that the mitigating evidence does not outweigh the aggravating evidence, then the case moves on to phase three. Victim impact statements will be delivered and jurors will then decide if death is the appropriate sentence.
The court has released the sentencing phase 2 jury instructions. Click here to view:
Although it’s hard to gauge what jurors may do without having been in the courtroom, I won’t be surprised it at least one juror believes Holmes’s mental illness outweighs the aggravation; that this tragedy would not have happened if he wasn’t mentally ill.
In other news, I continue to follow closely what charges, if any, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer will face in Zimbabwe and the US. As of late last week, he is reportedly going to cooperate with US authorities. The US agency investigating him is the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Palmer’s action potentially carries a ten year sentence and $20,000 fine in Zimbabwe. I am not aware of any charges filed against him in Africa or the US, as I write this. It’s too early to know whether he will be extradited. Zimbabwe needs to charge him first then formally apply to the US State Department for extradition. The process in the US could take a few years. Meanwhile, what happened to the remains of Cecil after he was beheaded?
The illegal killing of Cecil, however, is not Palmer’s first encounter with law enforcement. He lied to authorities about killing a bear in Wisconsin in 2006, and plead guilty to it in 2008. In 2009, he settled a sexual harassment civil suit brought by a former employee.
The global public outrage against Palmer is sending a strong message to poachers. I’ve been sensitive to the plight of protected animals, particularly elephants, who are killed for their tusks. I hope that the public debate over the tragic death of Cecil will spill over to concern for the senseless killing of all animals who need protection.