Mother of Colorado cinema gunman prays son spared death penalty: newspaper

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 30, 2015 11:02 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - The mother of Colorado cinema gunman James Holmes says in a new book that she prays prosecutors "stop this quest for death" and allow her son to plead guilty and avoid possible execution, a California newspaper reported on Monday.

Details of Arlene Holmes' book were disclosed in an interview that she and her husband, Bob, granted to the Del Mar Times, in which the couple maintained that their son is mentally ill and his life should be spared.

James Holmes, 27, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from a shooting rampage at a cinema in suburban Denver in July 2012.

Twelve moviegoers were killed and 70 others wounded when Holmes opened fire inside the theater during a midnight viewing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for the southern California native if he is convicted.

Public defenders have conceded that Holmes was the sole gunman, but argued he was in the "throes of a psychotic episode" at the time.

In her self-published book, "When The Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes 2013-2014," she said she prays for the victims by name, and for Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler to change his mind about seeking the death penalty.

"I do not know why you want to pursue execution of a mentally ill man," according to an entry from the book quoted by the newspaper. "Please stop this quest for death so you may focus on those who are alive."

Public defenders said in a 2013 court filing that Holmes would plead guilty and agree to a sentence of life without parole if Brauchler would take capital punishment off the table.

Brauchler rejected the offer, and blasted the defense for floating the notion.

In the newspaper interview, Holmes' parents said there were no guns in the home where their son grew up, and they blamed themselves for not recognizing his mental illness.

A long trial and years of possible appeals will only prolong the victims' grief, they said. 

A spokeswoman for the law firm that issued the couple's earlier statements declined to comment on the article.

Prosecutors in the case oppose a request by lawyers defending Holmes to move his trial out of the county, court documents showed on Monday. Opening statements are set for April 27.

(Editing by Curtis Skinner and Simon Cameron-Moore)