Aurora Theater Shooter Formally Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parol

A judge formally sentenced Holmes Wednesday to a dozen life sentences without parole, plus an additional 3,300 years to be served consecutively.


“I want to make it clear that it is the court’s intention that the defendant never set foot in free society again”, Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said.

The trial featured graphic descriptions of the gruesome crime scene and heartbreaking stories of the lives taken and shattered by Holmes’ bullets.

The prosecution had asked a jury to sentence Holmes to death for the murders, but on August 8 they decided to spare his life. Samour was legally required to pronounce sentence for the murders and other crimes of which Holmes was convicted, including attempted murder of other movie-goers and booby-trapping his nearby apartment to draw away first responders.

He also ordered maximum sentences on the remaining 141 guilty verdicts for attempted murder returned against Holmes for the seventy other people wounded in the rampage.

The judge sentencing Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to life in prison contrasted the valor and strength of Holmes’ victims with the weakness of the defendant. His decision to study neuroscience was hinged on the fact that he wanted to discover what was wrong with him, they said. Victims and their families were given the opportunity to speak about the shooting and its effects on their lives.

This is one of the longest criminal sentences in history.

Holmes has steadfastly refused to say anything in court in his own defense.

He said “the $64 million question” that still lingered was whether the defendant was afflicted by a mental condition, disease or defect, and if so, to what extent.

The defense said Holmes was delusional and schizophrenic, and can not be held legally accountable.

By that time, he was well into planning the attack and stockpiling ammunition. He also noted the trial was fair, even if some victims were disappointed that Holmes wasn’t sentenced to die.

More than 100 victims and survivors testified this week about their searing physical and emotional scars.

Holmes’ attorneys blamed the massacre on his schizophrenia and psychotic delusions, and experts testified that it wouldn’t have happened if he were not seriously mentally ill.

Prosecutors pointed to Holmes’ elaborate planning and his refusal to divulge to anyone – family, friends, psychiatrists – that he was thinking about, and preparing for, mass murder.

Defence attorney Daniel King has said Holmes will not appeal his conviction, sparing victims the possibility of another emotionally wrenching trial.


The best moment of the sentencing day was Samour’s dismissal of Holmes.

Sheriff's Office