James Holmes Found Guilty of All Charges in Aurora Theater Shooting

James Holmes found guilty of all counts
The media waited for the court to let out under a sunny rainfall and a double rainbow. Nina Burleigh/Newsweek

Updated | Aurora, Colorado—A jury on Thursday afternoon found James Holmes guilty of all 165 charges against him related to a July 2012 attack at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. Holmes, 27, was found guilty of first degree murder, including with "extreme indifference," attempted murder and explosives offenses. 

The jury began deliberating Wednesday morning and the decision was reached in just 13 hours, a short deliberation for a case that had 10 weeks of testimony.

Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others after entering a showing of The Dark Knight Rises and shooting into the crowd. He was arrested outside of the theater. It took the judge an hour to read the 165 guilty verdicts, much longer than the minutes it took for Holmes, armed with three guns, to spray the theater with bullets.

As the charges were read, Holmes, who was a neuroscience student before the murders, stood with his hands in his pockets. When the judge finished reading the charges, Holmes sat down and leaned back in his chair. He twisted back and forth in his seat. Holmes never turned to look at his parents, sitting a few rows behind him. His mother cried and his dad sipped Diet Coke. They sat in the left corner as far from the weeping victims as it was possible to get.

James Holmes found guilty in Colorado theater shooting. James Holmes found guilty in Colorado theater shooting that killed 12. Reuters

Victim Macayla Medec's elderly grandmother started weeping after the judge read the first guilty, but as he went through the victims names alphabetically survivors and loved ones began crying quietly one at a time until the entire right side of the courtroom was an orchestra of grief. Male female, old, young, black and white, the family members and survivors filled half the courtroom seats and represented the diversity of the victims.

Among the survivors in the audience was Josh Nowlan, a tall man walking with a cane. His right forearm arms was visibly scarred and he kept rubbing his left calf, the one pierced by bullets. He reacted stoically to the verdicts, and didn't flinch or cry.

Holmes's legal team made the argument that he is insane and thus cannot be held guilty for his actions. They hoped to send Holmes to a state mental hospital indefinitely. A jury found Holmes is not insane and therefore was responsible for his crimes. 

Caleb Medley, an Aurora shooting survivor, can't speak. Caleb Medley, an Aurora shooting survivor, can't speak. Nina Burleigh/Newsweek

Survivor Katie Medley stood next to her wheelchairbound husband who can't speak and who lost an eye. "It's just sad, you look around at this roomful of people who lost a son a brother. We all said 'congratulations' to each other but there's really not a word, we're happy with the verdict but we are sad that we're here," she said.

Standing in front of the courthouse with his wife Karen, Tom Teves, father of victim Alex Teves, called Holmes a "dirtbag." He criticized the legal system that allowed the insanity defense and said "God bless the jury."

"He didn't give a crap. He's still playing a game. Alex is still dead," Teves added.

Holmes could face execution. "This is a resuscitation of the death penalty in the United States—just like Boston Marathon bomber—and now we have this," Barry Slotnick, former Chairman of the NYSBA Death Penalty Committee, told Newsweek following the verdict. "Now the death penalty is being raised as an issue again. We can see that juries are involved and to cause penalization as an alternative to the death penalty." Holmes's parents have advocated against the death penalty. 

The case had been ongoing for several months and the case has been in the works for three years. Three jurors were dismissed for discussing the case and reading about it on social media.

The judge adjourned the jury, admonishing them not to talk about the case before they return next Wednesday for the sentencing phase. "As you know, you'll be asked to determine what punishment to impose: life in prison without the option for parole or the death sentence," the judge said. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article inappropriately disclosed the name of a juror. The name has since been removed. Polly Mosendz contributed reporting from New York and was not involved with reporting from the courthouse in Colorado.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Holmes entered a showing of The Dark Knight.  It was a showing of The Dark Knight Rises.