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Key elements in Colorado theater shooting case

Colorado theater shooter James Holmes was convicted Thursday of killing 12 people and wounding scores of others in a methodical attack on a midnight movie premier. Here’s a look at the key elements of the case:



About 420 people were watching a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20, 2012, in the Denver suburb of Aurora when Holmes opened fire, killing 12 people.

Fifty-eight others were wounded by gunfire, and 12 were injured in the scramble to escape. Holmes surrendered to police outside the theater.

His attorneys acknowledged he was the gunman, but they said he was in the grip of a psychotic episode.



The jurors now will decide whether to sentence Holmes to death or life in prison without parole in the trial’s sentencing phase. Both sides can present witnesses before the jury decides.

Jurors will return for that phase Wednesday. It’s expected to last about a month.



The trial began with opening statements April 27. Over the next 11 weeks, jurors heard from more than 250 witnesses, viewed more than 24 hours of video and saw more than 1,500 photos, some of them disturbing images of the victims. They also examined scores of pieces of evidence, including Holmes’ guns and ammunition. Holmes didn’t testify. The jury began deliberating July 15.



Prosecutors said Holmes planned and carried out the massacre to assuage the pain of his failures in graduate school and in romance. Defense lawyers said schizophrenia had been growing inside Holmes’ mind for years and eventually overwhelmed him in 2012, creating a delusion that he could improve his self-worth by killing others and absorbing their value.



Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, which under Colorado law means he acknowledged committing the acts but believed he wasn’t responsible because he couldn’t tell right from wrong. Two court-appointed psychiatrists testified he was legally sane; two defense psychiatrists told jurors he was legally insane.



The judge originally seated 12 jurors, plus 12 alternates to replace any jurors who had to be dismissed for health or other reasons. Five were dismissed during the trial, either for seeing news reports about the case or, in the case of one juror, because a family member was injured in an unrelated crime. The 12 deliberating jurors and the seven remaining alternates were identified after closing arguments July 14.



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