‘There Are No Winners’ In Theater Shooting Verdict, State Public Defender Says

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Photo: James Holmes and defense attorney at arraignment
In this March 12, 2013 file photo, James Holmes, left, and defense attorney Tamara Brady appear in district court in Centennial, Colo. for his arraignment.

The defense in the Aurora movie theater shooting trial had a difficult task. They acknowledged their client was guilty, but tried to keep him from getting the death penalty. Their strategy worked.

On Monday, Colorado Matters heard from the lead prosecutor in the James Holmes trial, District Attorney George Brauchler. We invited Holmes' attorneys to join us. They declined, but their boss Doug Wilson, who leads the Colorado State Office of the Public Defender, spoke with host Nathan Heffel.

“There are no winners in this case," Wilson said. "The amazing, overwhelming loss that the victims had in this case -- that can’t be given back to them. People aren’t going to come back, the folks that were injured. Our sympathies, our empathies for them have always been there.”

Wilson also declined to provide the cost of defending Holmes, citing privacy rules.

“The Colorado Supreme Court ... [says] when you represent an individual client -- not the state, not the people, but an individual, the person who’s name is behind the ‘people v.’ -- you may not release any case-related information,” he explained.

The prosecution has spent $1.37 million so far on the case. That tally is expected to rise and you can visit this link to see the latest calculation.

More highlights from the conversation are below.

On why a life sentence was appropriate:

“At the time of conviction on the offense, the starting point is that life is always the appropriate sentence. Life. Life is justice. That’s what the United States Supreme Court says. And unless and until the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that life isn’t the just sentence, that death is appropriate on this individual, then life is always the correct sentence."

On the need for a discussion about the death penalty:

“When the governor ran for re-election, he said that we need to have a discussion about the death penalty. And I would welcome that discussion about the death penalty. I would hope that he would lead that discussion. And I would hope that if we’re going to start the discussion about costs, then we … ask what has it cost this state to have the death penalty on the books?”