What Happens Next In The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial

Photo: Caleb Medley, Aurora Theater Shooting Survivor, Wheelchair
Katie Medley, left, pushes her husband, Caleb, into the Arapahoe County Courthouse Thursday, July 16, 2015 before jurors convicted James Holmes in the July 2012 shooting massacre at an Aurora movie theater.

Now that the guilty verdict is in, his legal team, prosecutors and jurors will turn their attention to Aurora theater shooter James Holmes' punishment starting Monday.

Holmes was convicted of more than 160 criminal counts on Thursday, including 12 counts of first-degree murder and 12 counts of first-degree murder with "extreme indifference."

Here's a timeline for what to expect next week. As always, events in court could go slower or faster than expected, so we'll update this post as information changes.


While many will memorialize the third anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting on Monday, attorneys at trial will be preparing for the sentencing phase.

Most of the work will be on jury instructions and processes around the sentencing phase, says Jon Sarche, a public information officer with the Colorado Judicial Department. That work will continue into Tuesday as well.


There will be one witness who will testify in open court in order to be videotaped for the jury to watch at a later time, Sarche says. That witness had scheduling conflicts, which is why the testimony will be taped.


On Wednesday, the jurors return to begin the sentencing phase of the trial. Karen Steinhauser, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor says a lot more emotional testimony comes at sentencing.

"Victims, survivors are able to talk about now the impact that this crime has had on them -- on their lives, on their families, on every aspect of their life," she said. Defense attorneys may tell more about the life of Holmes, maybe including testimony from his parents.

​Once sentencing begins, it could take as long as a month to complete.

After sentencing

If Holmes gets the death penalty, there will likely be "many, many years" of appeals, Steinhauser said.

In fact, Nathan Dunlap, who was sentenced to death for murdering four people in 1993, remains on death row after Gov. Hickenlooper granted him a temporary repreive.

"We don't know what the next governor's feelings may be," said Steinhauser, "But there is the possibility that even with a death sentence, we may never see that."