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Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre massacre, carries a T-shirt memorializing the twelve people killed in the attack outside the Arapahoe County Courthouse on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. —Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

Life in Prison, No Parole for Aurora Theater Shooter

After 65 days of testimony, the jury in the Aurora theater trial could not reach a unanimous decision on the death penalty. James Eagan Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole. 

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The verdict is in: James Holmes has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury—nine women and three men—came to the decision after deliberating for less than seven hours over two days. The panel could not come to a unanimous decision on the death penalty, which is required by Colorado law, and therefore the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison.

On July 16, Holmes was convicted of 24 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of 12 people and 140 counts of attempted murder for wounding 70, for his planned attack at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora on July 20, 2012.

In the first sentencing phase, which concluded July 23, the jury found the gunman guilty of four aggravating circumstances. On August 3, they determined in phase two that the mitigating factors laid out by the defense, such as his history of mental illness, did not outweigh the aggravating factors of his crime.

With today’s ruling (phase three, during which jurors heard victim impact statements from surviving family members and spouses), jurors determined that life in prison—rather than the death penalty—was an appropriate punishment for the crime.

The sentence will be officially imposed by Judge Carlos Samour Jr. during a final hearing on August 24 to 26. Family members of deceased victims will be permitted to address the judge about their losses. The gunman will also be offered the chance to speak.

The sentencing decision comes on the 65th day of the trial, which saw 302 witnesses take the stand.

(Read excerpts from a survivor’s trial journal)

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