Friday, March 29, 2013
Colorado prosecutors have rejected movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes' offer of a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty.
"While the defense suggested that the defendant be allowed to plead guilty on his terms, the prosecution indicated that it could not even consider such an offer without specific additional information, which the defense refused to provide," prosecutors wrote in their response Thursday, according to ABC News' Denver affiliate KMGH.
Prosecutors also said they believed the defense's offer was a "calculated" move for attention.
"The circumstances surrounding the filing of the Notice indicate that it was filed for the intended purpose of generating the predictable pretrial publicity that occurred yesterday," prosecutors wrote, according to KMGH.
Holmes' defense attorneys said on Wednesday that he was willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison in order to avoid the death penalty.
"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," Holmes' attorneys wrote in an Arapahoe County court filing.
"It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty," defense attorneys wrote.
Denver defense attorney and former prosecutor Karen Steinhauser, who is not involved in the Holmes case, does not believe the defense's plea offer was a plot for publicity.
"I don't believe that this was a publicity stunt," Steinhauser told ABC News. "The goal of the defense is to do whatever they can to save their client's life."
"In Colorado, the death penalty is still the law and prosecutors have been reserving it for the worst of the worst," she said. "Most people would agree that if you're going to have a death penalty, this case represents the worst of the worst."
The Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case, citing a gag order.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding at least 58 when gunfire erupted in an Aurora, Colo., theater last July during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Holmes' physical appearance has evolved over his time in prison, visible only in rare court appearances. He has gone from wild, Joker-like orange and red hair in his first appearance to his most recent look of brown hair and a shaggy beard. He has sometimes looked bug-eyed and confused and other times so despondent and drowsy that people questioned whether he had been drugged.
District Attorney George Brauchler has gone on the record in the courtroom that he would have a decision on whether to seek the death penalty at a hearing Monday, April 1st. He has been meeting with families of the victims in the shooting to hear their opinions on the issue.
Family members are divided on whether Holmes should get death, according to investigative sources. Some are philosophically opposed to the death penalty, others support it and still another group wants death for Holmes, but they don't want to endure a trial.
The next hearing in the case is set for April 1 and his trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 5.