James Holmes Jury Leaves Death on the Table
Jury reached a decision today in second phase of trial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2015 1:49 PM CDT
In this July 23, 2012, file photo, James Holmes sits in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo.   (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via AP, Pool, File)

(Newser) – The second phase of James Holmes' trial wrapped up today, and there will be a third. The jury decided the Aurora movie theater shooter should face a possible death sentence after considering the "mitigating factors." The Denver Post reports that the criminal trial, whose jury selection began in January, ranks among the state's longest. Long is an adjective that might apply to Colorado's death-penalty-sentence process. A jury must deliberate three times before it can hand out a death sentence. The first phase wrapped up last month, when the jury agreed that the crime was heinous enough to qualify for the death penalty. In this, the second phase, the jury had to decide whether to keep the death penalty on the table.

The AP notes the nine women and three men were asked to decide whether circumstances such as Holmes' mental illness, trouble-free childhood, and lack of a prior criminal history reduce his "moral culpability" enough to justify sentencing him to life in prison without parole instead of death. Today's decision clears the way for a last plea from both sides, including what is expected to be gripping and emotional testimony from victims about the harm and suffering Holmes caused with his slaughter. After those arguments, the jury will make its final decision on whether the 27-year-old should die by lethal injection or spend the rest of his life in prison.