Formal sentencing for Aurora theater shooter begins

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James Holmes appears in court with his defense attorney Daniel King in June 2013 following the killing of 12 moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado, the year before. (Photo: Pool/Reuters)

Formal sentencing proceedings begin Monday with testimony from at lest 100 victims and family members of the theater shooting that shocked a Colorado community and the nation three years ago.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. this week will formally sentence James Holmes, who was convicted of 24 counts of first-degree murder, two for each victim killed, 165 charges total, in July after the court rejected the claim that he was insane during a shooting at a July 2012 midnight screening of the “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, which left 12 people dead and 70 others wounded.

This week’s testimony will help the judge decide sentencing on the remaining counts, which include attempted murder and explosives charges, the Associated Press reported. The judge has not set a limit on the number of witnesses allowed to take the stand and has granted Holmes the opportunity to speak, though he declined the privilege during his trial.

The conviction was reached after several weeks of testimony from some 200 witnesses – the judge ultimately concluding that Holmes was sane when he planned for several weeks to carry out the deadly attack, which began with the shooter tossing smoke grenades into the theater and firing a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol into the crowd.

The gunman also set explosives in his apartment to detract police from the shooting, but those were disarmed without incident.

Following a trial that introduced almost 3,000 pieces of evidence, Holmes was spared the death penalty because one juror voted against it.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Arpahoe County Dist. Atty. George H. Brauchler, who spent the last three months gunning for the death of Holmes, said the juror was strong in her position.

Each juror was asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how strongly they felt about their position and “This juror said, ‘I’m a 10, but I’m a 10 for life.’”