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Accused Aurora Movie Theater Shooter James Holmes Will Face Death Penalty

Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes in court, July 23, 2012 in Centennial, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images)
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James Holmes, the young man accused of shooting dozens of movie-goers last year in Aurora, Colorado during a showing of "Dark Knight Rises," will indeed face the death penalty, prosecutors confirmed Monday.

Last week, Holmes' attorneys submitted a request to file a guilty plea on behalf of their client in order for him to avoid the death penalty, however late last week George Brauchler, the district attorney for Arapahoe County rejected the offer, according to NBC.

Previously, on March 12, a judge entered a standard plea of not guilty for the 25-year-old defendant.

The Wall Street Journal elaborates on the ramifications of today's decision by prosecutors and the path ahead in the case:

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Prosecutors in a capital case must first persuade jurors of Mr. Holmes's guilt, then, in a separate proceeding, convince the same jurors that aggravating circumstances such as multiple victims justify a death sentence. The defense can raise mitigating factors, such as his mental state, to try to persuade jurors to impose a sentence of life in prison instead.

In Colorado, the death penalty is administered via lethal injection, however the sentence has not been carried out in full since 1997.

Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges. Armed with four weapons, tear gas and body armor, he allegedly opened fire on the movie theater on July 20, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others (though some reports claim over 70 people were wounded).

Lawyers for the defendant have characterized him as deeply mentally ill.

Holmes' trial is set to begin August 5.

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