This is how you try to make a mass murderer seem like a human being.
You show the jury his birth announcement: James Eagan Holmes, 7 pounds, 5 ounces, 20 inches. You play video of him as a laughing little boy cutting out gingerbread Christmas trees with his grandmother and struggling to pick out “Jingle Bells” on the piano.
And you put his tearful mother on the witness stand to talk about the pain and guilt that have consumed her since her child murdered 12 people and wounded 70 others in an Aurora, Colo., multiplex three years ago.
Arlene Rosemary Holmes, 61, spoke at length Wednesday for the first time. All she wants is for her son to have a chance to spend the rest of his life in prison. As she wrote in her prayer journal nine months after her son’s rampage, “More death does not restore life.”
“He never harmed anyone, ever — ever — until July 20, 2012,” she told jurors, who could sentence James Holmes to death within the next few weeks. “I understand he has a serious mental illness. He didn’t ask for that. Schizophrenia chose him. He didn’t choose it.
“I still love my son,” she said, choking up. “I do.”
As the lengthy trial grinds on, Robert and Arlene Holmes sit in Division 201 of the Arapahoe County Justice Center, motionless and stoic, a row or two back from their son, who is now a convicted mass murderer. Sometimes tears roll down their cheeks. Many days, they take notes. They are always silent.
Until this week. That’s when defense attorneys in James Holmes’ death penalty trial neared the end of the so-called mitigation phase — the time when they try to convince jurors that one of the deadliest mass shooters in American history should be granted mercy.
This week, attorneys called the two witnesses who love Holmes the most, who have stood by him as the horrors mounted — the people who could talk about the 27-year-old’s life in a way that no others could. His parents.
Source: Los Angeles Times |