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James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people and wounded 70 on July 20, 2012, during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," in Aurora, Colo., will face a death penalty trial, prosecutors announced on Monday in a heavily anticipated court disclosure.
Prosecutors rejected a plea from Holmes' lawyers just four days earlier when the 24-year-old shooter offered to plead guilty in hopes of avoiding capital punishment. His defense team is trying to prove that Holmes was legally insane when he carried out the mass shooting that shocked the nation, The Associated Press reported.
The former neuroscience graduate student from the University of Colorado Denver stormed into the movie theater last July in a bullet-proof vest, wearing Joker-inspired makeup, and opened fire at random, which resulted in 12 deaths.
Holmes said that he is prepared to face life in jail with no possibility for parole for his actions, which include a total of 166 charges of murder, attempted murder and other crimes, but prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty. His defense team has pointed to emotional distress in Holmes' life leading up to the assault, but survivors and families of the victims have said that that cannot be used to excuse what he did.
"I'm in favor of the death penalty, and I'd like to see it in this case, but I'm not in favor of dragging this thing out. I loved my nephew dearly and we miss him every single day. If it was over today, it would alleviate a lot of the pain and suffering," said Dave Hoover, whose nephew was shot in the theater.
As a result of the shooting, gun control advocates have pushed for new gun legislation in Colorado, including a ban on the sort of high-capacity magazines used during the shooting.
Other survivors, like Pierce O'Farrill, who was shot three times, said they hope the case will be resolved sooner rather than later, as opposed to seeing it dragged on for many years.
"It could be 10 or 15 years before he's executed. I would be in my 40s and I'm planning to have a family, and the thought of having to look back and reliving everything at that point in my life, it would be difficult," O'Farrill said.