AURORA | Lawyers for James Holmes made one final plea to jurors Thursday to spare the convicted mass murderer’s life.
Public defender Tamara Brady said she didn’t want to diminish the killings of 12 people in the July 2012 attack, but she pleaded with the jury to give Holmes a life sentence instead of death.
“The deaths of all of those people cannot be answered by another death,” she said. “Please, no more death.”
But District Attorney George Brauchler told the jury that Holmes’ crimes were far worse than a typical first-degree murder, and because of that, Holmes doesn’t deserve the same sentence that people who kill just one person receive.
“They did not pick him, he picked them. He picked the time, place and manner of their death,” he said of the victims and Holmes. “And does he get a life sentence for that?”
Brauchler showed the jury pictures of each of the 12 killed and asked them what they would remember about them. For Alex Sullivan, he asked if they would remember his close relationship with his dad and that he was at the movies that night to celebrate his birthday.
For Gordon Cowden, he asked if they would remember the doting father he was.
For Veronica Moser-Sullivan, he asked if they would remember that she will forever be just 6 years old.
As Brauchler spoke, Moser-Sullivan’s mom, Ashley Moser, who was paralyzed in the shooting, sat in a wheelchair in the second row of the gallery. On her left wrist, she wore a bracelet with her daughter’s name on it.
Brauchler noted that while Holmes killed 12, he planned to kill more.
“He came there for them all,” he said.
Brauchler told the jury that a death sentence couldn’t bring back the dead, and while it would be justice, it wouldn’t fix the lives shattered by the shootings.
“But you can bring justice to this act, and to him,” he said, walking close to the defense table and pointing at Holmes. “And for James Eagan Holmes, justice is death. It’s death.”
When Brady stood to give her closing argument, several of the victims’ families stood up and quietly left the courtroom. One after another, AJ Boik’s family, Alex Teves’ mother, Moser-Sullivan’s family, Jessica Ghawi’s family and others filtered out of the courtroom rather than listen to Brady plead for Holmes’ life.
Brady said Holmes’ mental illness caused the attack, and noted that even doctors appointed by the court said that but for Holmes’ illness, the shootings would not have happened.
“This tragedy was born of disease, not of choice,” she said. “And we do not execute someone for getting sick.”
She asked the jury to show mercy on Holmes, not because Holmes deserves it, but because of what it would say about the jurors themselves.
“Mercy is what makes us civilized,” she said. “Mercy is what puts an end to violence.”
The judge gave the deliberating jurors the case at 3:18 p.m. on the courtroom’s wall clock. Jurors deliberated until 4:30 p.m. before leaving for the day and are expected to resume at 8:30 a.m. friday. The same jury convicted Holmes last month after just a day of deliberations and deliberated this month for just a few hours before ruling the death penalty should be an option.