Aurora theater shooter’s parents make plea for his life

Photo: Robert and Arlene Holmes (AP Photo)
Robert and Arlene Holmes, parents of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, walk from the courtroom at the Arapahoe County Justice Center for a hearing in the 2012 Colorado movie theatre shooting case, July 22, 2014, in Centennial, Colo.

The parents of James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people at an Aurora movie theater in 2012, are pleading that his life be spared.

In a letter to the Denver Post published Friday, Robert and Arlene Holmes say their son is mentally ill and should be placed in an institution for the rest of his life. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

"We love our son, we have always loved him, and we do not want him to be executed," they wrote.

The couple say they have spent "every moment for more than two years thinking about those who were injured, and the families and friends of the deceased who were killed."

"We do not know how many victims of the theater shooting would like to see our son killed. But we are aware of people's sentiments. We have read postings on the Internet that have likened him to a monster. He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness," they wrote.

James Holmes is charged with murdering 12 people and attempting to murder dozens more at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater on July 20, 2012. Those killed were: Jonathan T. Blunk, 26; Alexander J. Boik, 18; Air Force Staff Sgt Jesse E. Childress, 29; Gordon W. Cowden, 51; Jessica Ghawi, 24; Petty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer, 27; Matthew R. McQuinn, 27; Micayla C. Medek, 23; Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6; Alex M. Sullivan, 27; Alexander C. Teves, 24; Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32.

The theater was especially crowded that day for the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises." It was the deadliest shooting in the state since Columbine in 1999. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges.

In their letter, Robert and Arlene Holmes argue against going through with a trial.

"A lengthy trial requires everyone to relive those horrible moments in time, causing additional trauma," they wrote.

Earlier in December, the judge overseeing the case declined defense attorneys' request to delay the trial. Jury selection is scheduled to start in late January.