Robert Holmes has listened to months of testimony on the horror his son was responsible for, but he still loves "Jimmy"—and yesterday, he spent hours trying to save his life. He took the stand as part of the "mitigation" phase of James Holmes' death penalty trial and described his son's childhood, showing jurors old photos and home movies and recalling happy memories of playing soccer in an effort to persuade them to sentence him to life in prison instead of death, reports the Los Angeles Times. Asked if he loved his son, he said yes, the Denver Post reports. "He's my son, and we always got along really well," he said. "He was always a really excellent kid." Holmes was found guilty earlier this month of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in 2012.
Robert Holmes, who described the trial as a "very difficult experience," testified that he didn't realize until after the mass shooting that mental illness runs in his family, and he said that while his son had seemed withdrawn, the thought that he would become a killer didn't even cross his mind, the Post reports. But during a trip home in 2011, he saw a strange "smile, grimace, or smirk" on his son's face—and he saw the same expression in a mugshot after the massacre. The father's testimony followed that of dozens of family friends, neighbors, and teachers who described Holmes as shy, quiet, and completely non-violent, the Times reports. Holmes' mother, who was in the courtroom for her husband's testimony, is expected to take the stand today.