Skip to main content

Colorado theater shooting suspect offers to plead guilty

By Dana Ford, CNN
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Court documents say prosecutors haven't accepted the offer
  • James Holmes' trial date is set for August 5
  • He makes the offer in exchange for avoiding the death penalty
  • Holmes' attorneys say they are still exploring a mental health defense

(CNN) -- Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes has offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Prosecutors have not accepted the offer. Previously, they had said they would make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty against the 25-year-old Holmes at a hearing April 1.

"Prior to arraignment, Mr. Holmes made an offer to the prosecution to resolve this case by pleading guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison, without any opportunity for parole," the documents read.

"If the prosecution elects not to pursue the death penalty, then it is Mr. Holmes' position that this case could be resolved on April 1."

Shooting turns mother into activist
Accused theater shooter's doctor sued

This month, a judge entered a standard plea of not guilty for Holmes, who is accused of opening fire at a Colorado movie theater that left 12 people dead and 58 injured on July 20, 2012.

In the documents filed Wednesday, his attorneys said they are still exploring a mental health defense, "and counsel will vigorously present and argue any and all appropriate defenses at a trial or sentencing proceeding, as necessary."

Holmes' lawyers blast Colorado's insanity defense laws

"Nevertheless, Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved," they said.

Holmes is charged with a total of 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges.

Federal agents have said the former University of Colorado doctoral student planned the attack for months.

He began buying guns in May 2012, allegedly building an arsenal of two Glock handguns, an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and 6,295 rounds of ammunition.

Authorities say Holmes booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, then traveled to the movie theater armed with the weapons, tear gas and body armor planning to kill audience members during a screening of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises."

Witnesses who spoke to CNN said the gunman roamed the theater, shooting randomly as people tried to scramble away or cowered between seats.

"This is not a 'whodunit.' Everybody knows that James Holmes committed these horrible murders. The question is what punishment he will get," said CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

"If they (defense attorneys) can get life in prison, they will consider this a victory."

Holmes' trial date has been set for August 5.

'Truth serum' won't reveal mind of James Holmes

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Meet the victims involved in the Colorado theater massacre through shared photos and read the memories kept alive by their loved ones.
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
Colorado shooting suspect has offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
March 22, 2013 -- Updated 1436 GMT (2236 HKT)
Back in the 1950s, Hollywood fell in love with the idea of truth serum. But it doesn't work the way the movies have made it seem.
March 2, 2013 -- Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)
Lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting suspect, took aim against the state's insanity defense laws in court documents made public Friday.
January 8, 2013 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
Relatives of nine people killed said an invitation to attend an event on the eve of the remodeled complex's reopening is "disgusting."
July 31, 2012 -- Updated 1530 GMT (2330 HKT)
Colorado movie shooting suspect James Holmes was charged Monday with 24 counts of first-degree murder -- two counts for each of the 12 people killed in the shooting.
July 25, 2012 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
From the silver lining of welcoming a newborn into the world on Tuesday to promising to live life to the fullest, survivors are looking forward.
July 22, 2012 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
James E. Holmes is described by those who know him as a quiet, clean-cut doctoral student.
July 20, 2012 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
A heavily armed gunman opened fire at a movie theater on July 20, killing at least 12 and wounding 38. Here are some of the worst U.S. mass shootings since World War II.
July 25, 2012 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
Photos of the scene in Aurora after the shooting took place.
July 21, 2012 -- Updated 0159 GMT (0959 HKT)
A heavily armed gunman sprayed the audience with gunfire during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, killing 12 and wounding 38 others, authorities said.
Are you a friend or family member of one of the victims? Share your tributes here.
ADVERTISEMENT