Saturday, August 8, 2015

'The Joker' Gets Life in Prison for Aurora Theater Massacre- The Best Resolution For Victim Families

The refrain after each murder count was the same for each victim, as read by Judge Carlos Samour - with only the name changed:

"We, the jury, do not have a unanimous verdict on this count, and...."

Under Colorado law, the verdict had to be unanimous for the death penalty to be accepted. But as "Juror 17" (unidentified) put it in today's Denver Post ('Juror Said One Said No To Death', p. 4A), one of the 12 jurors adamantly held out - not prepared to align the person's moral view (under which the final phase was adjudicated) of requiring the death penalty for James Eagan Holmes. As attested to by Juror 17 (ibid.):

"The person was solidly and definitely in that position and they weren't going to change."

And so ends a trial that cost over $2.5 million dollars, took 3 years to resolve, with over 300 witnesses and 1,000 pieces of evidence. As Denise Maes of the ACLU of Colorado put it (p. 3A):

"It is deeply unfortunate that our taxpayer dollars had to pay for one of the most expensive trials in the state's history only to achieve the same outcome offered by the defense before the trial began."

That was in reference to the defense's offer of a plea of guilty in return for a life sentence. But DA George Brauchler was determined to move forward with death though he had to know the huge bar he'd have to climb when the defense only had to cross the threshold of "reasonable doubt". 

Of course, many of the victims' families were upset, such as Sandy Phillips - mother of Jessica Ghawi- who said (p. 4A):

"The thought that this monster gets to have visitations with his parents and gets to receive mail and pictures of his very strange girlfriends is hard to accept"

But Mrs. Phillips either forgets or ignores the fact she'd have had to "accept" it anyway, even if the death penalty verdict had come to pass. (Only 1 person has been executed in Colorado in the past 50 years.) As the Denver Post editorial put it:

"Even if Holmes had been sentenced to death no prudent person would have bet on his execution."

Indeed, the incessant appeals would have drawn out the case another 25-35 years (by some estimates) with no sure execution even then. Thus, whether the families realize it or not they have finally attained the closure they sought and oh, btw, life in prison won't be 'sweetbread' for Holmes. He will have to be under constant watch and exercise vigilance given "high profile killers are often targeted for violence".

Thus,  the most likely place he'll end up is Sterling Correctional Facility which has a Management Control Unit Protective Custody housing for hard core, high profile and troubled killers.

He could also be sent out of state, but I doubt it,

James Holmes, aka 'the Joker', will now have to spend the rest of his life behind bars - and if he ever does regain mental health- perhaps wonder why he didn't take those anti-psychotic meds he was prescribed.

As I've noted before, this resolution is the optimum one for the victims' families because it allows them to get on with their lives without appeals being dragged out for decades as they surely would have been. (And Holmes' defense team promised.)  Some families may yearn for swift "justice" (e.g. death) but eventually they will come to grasp that wouldn't have happened anyway. The "justice" they believe would be actuated expeditiously by a death verdict would only be postponed indefinitely as the appeals process dragged out years, then decades. Indeed, Holmes would likely end up - at age 27 now - living longer than most of the aggrieved older family members.

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