Despite a plea of insanity, James E. Holmes has been found guilty of murder by a Colorado jury today. The man was convicted of 24 counts of first degree murder following a 2012 shooting rampage that left 12 people dead. The horrifying incident took place in the town of Aurora, inside a suburban Denver movie theater that was showing a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
One of the big questions raised by the trial was how pop culture inspires people to kill. But there is no definitive answer to the question, with many arguing that movies and TV shows should never be blamed for a person's mental state. Though they can certainly contribute one's social view of the world. James E. Holmes is a former neuroscience student who studied at the University of Colorado-Denver. He pleaded not guilty in his case, citing reasons of insanity. While found guilty of 24 counts of murder, he also went into his trail facing 140 counts of attempted murder and one charge for possession of an explosive.
James E. Holmes' defense attorneys never claimed that their client was innocent. There is little evidence to prove that he didn't slip through the exit door of the Aurora Cineplex and open fire on the crowd. There were reports following the incident that another individual was involved, and that two men were seen at the location. But a second suspect was never apprehended in the case. The attorneys argued that the 27-year-old man, who at the time referred to himself as The Joker, was delusional and had suffered a psychotic break leading up to the unprovoked attack.
State-appointed forensic psychiatrists claimed that James E. Holmes was mentally ill. But the prosecution focused on the fact that he was still capable of differentiating between right and wrong. Therefore, he was considered sane under Colorado law. They went onto state that the shooting had been meticulously plotted out in the weeks leading up to the incident. It was during this time that he dropped out of his doctoral program and lost his girlfriend. A lack of purpose was blamed on the rampage.
James E. Holmes arrived in court not looking like the man who first appeared in court back in 2012 shortly after the arrest, sporting dyed red hair and a vacant stare. During his court hearing, he wore a grey shirt and khakis, with his hair trimmed close, and back to its natural color. He did, however, remain impassive as Judge Carlos Samour Jr. read the verdict. The process took over an hour, with prosecutors arguing that he deserves the death penalty. Shortly after announcing the verdicts, the judge adjourned the court. The jury will return this coming Wednesday, when sentencing proceedings will begin.