Now that the jury has rejected Holmes’s insanity defense–an outcome I had predicted though I thought deliberations would take lnger than a day and a half–the next big question is whether his mental illness will be sufficient mitigating evidence to spare his life.
The penalty phase begins next Wednesday, July 22. Typically, the State introduces its aggravating evidence first. It consists of the evidence already introduced at the guilt phase (to be incorporated by reference) and more. The defense follows with mitigating evidence. It is my understanding that Colorado allows victim impact statements, orally or in writing, at this phase. Assuming those statements are delivered, they should be confined to the murder victims, not the attempted murder victims.
The jury may have quickly dispensed with the defenses’s insanity argument but the undisputed evidence that Holmes is mentally ill may save his life. Moreover, Colorado is not a state that reaches death verdicts often. There are only three men (and no women) on its death row. The last execution was in 1997.
Remember–Monday, July 20, 2015 is the three-year anniversary of the theater shooting.