Just over three years ago, James Holmes opened fire on a theater full of unsuspecting superhero fans who were looking forward to seeing the premier of the latest Batman movie.
The jury rejected his plea of insanity, found him guilty in that massacre, andits members had one last question to answer: Should he be put to death?
The courtroom was packed on Friday to hear the answer to that question.
There were injured survivors. There were relatives of the dead. And there were the first responders who rushed into the theater that night. All of them focused on Judge Carlos A. Samour, Jr. as he read the verdict, which came less than a day after the jurors began deliberating:
"We the jury do not have a unanimous final sentencing verdict on this count, and we the jury understand that as a result, the court will impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on this count."
Samour had cautioned those in the courtroom ahead of his reading to contain their emotions no matter what the jury's decision would be. But when it was announced, stunned silence turned to anguish in the gallery. Police officers and victims cried and shook their heads in disbelief. Holmes mother, who was also standing, went weak in the knees, in tears.