James Holmes – Colorado theater shooting

Associated Press
In this Monday, April 27, 2015 sketch by courtroom artist Jeff Kandyba, Aurora theater shooting defendant James Holmes, center left, and defense attorney Daniel King sit in court at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on the first day of Holmes' trial, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more inside a packed movie theater in July 2012, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. (AP Photo/Jeff Kandyba)

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The time has come for jurors to hear whether James Holmes should be executed for killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater. But even if they choose death, Holmes could spend the rest of his life in prison awaiting capital punishment that never happens.

Colorado has executed only one person in nearly half a century, and just three people sit on the state's death row. The man closest to seeing his death sentence carried out was granted an indefinite reprieve in 2013 by the state's Democratic governor, who said he had doubts about the fairness of the state's death penalty system.

The same jurors who convicted Holmes of 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges in his July 20, 2012, theater attack must soon decide whether he should pay with his life. The sentencing phase of his trial begins Wednesday. (AP)

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