Theater Shooter Gets 12 Life Sentences, Additional 3,318 Years In Prison

August 26, 2015
Photo: Holmes Formal Sentencing Aurora Theater Aug. 26 (STAFF)
The scene in the courtroom as James Holmes, standing at the podium, hears his formal sentence for killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.

Aurora theater shooter James Holmes has received his final sentence: 3,318 years in prison, on top of 12 consecutive life terms.

Judge Carlos Samour handed down the maximum sentence for 140 counts of attempted murder on Wednesday, then asked officers to "get the defendant out of my courtroom please" as spectators applauded.

"If there was ever a case that warranted the maximum sentences, this is the case. One of the victims yesterday said the defendant doesn't deserve any sympathy," Samour said. "I wholeheartedly agree."

Samour sentenced Holmes after two days of often emotional testimony from about 100 survivors of the 2012 massacre at the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Before reading his sentence, Samour told those disappointed that Holmes will not be executed to focus on the harsh reality of living out one’s life in prison.

"You can view the glass as half full, if you wish, and focus on things such as the fact that the defendant will never be a free man again, ever," the judge said. "The fact that the defendant will never be able to decide when to shower, when to eat, when to sleep, when to play." 

Samour also told the court that he wanted to make clear his intention that Holmes will "never set foot in free society again," that he will "spend every single day of the rest of his life in prison."

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For families of victims who have spent the past four months following the trial, this marks the end of a long process. Kathleen Larimer says until the trial she couldn’t bring herself to say that her son was murdered.

"Now I have to go home and try to live with all that, and that emptiness, and yet still be happy with life going on," she said. "This has become life." 

Photo: Lonnie and Sandy Phillips at Holmes sentencing (Staff)
Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the shooting, said the trial didn't answer all their questions about Holmes' mental state and motivation. 
"But we do know one thing: He's going to die in prison," Lonnie Phillips said. "For us, that's good enough."
"The sooner, the better," Sandy Phillips added. 

For Holmes, the next step will be a transfer from the county jail to the Department of Correction’s intake center. The DOC has complete discretion about where he serves his sentence, including potentially transferring him to a prison in another state or to the federal system.

The defense has said it will not appeal Holmes’ sentence.

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