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Will James Holmes avoid death penalty for Colorado theater shooting? (+video)

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(Read caption) James Holmes, the accused gunman in the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings is offering to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. CBS news' Charlie Rose reports.
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James Holmes, the suspect in last summer's movie theater shooting in Colorado, has offered to plead guilty and serve life without parole but only if prosecutors do not seek the death penalty.

Mr. Holmes's defense lawyers said their client is “willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved,” in a routine scheduling document filed with the Arapahoe County District Court Wednesday.

The defendant faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder, and other offenses. He is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others when he opened fire in during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., on July 20.

The court document said Holmes made his plea offer to the prosecution before his March 12 arraignment, but prosecutors have not responded to the offer because they may still opt to pursue the death penalty. By making Holmes’s plea public, his defense attorneys are increasing the pressure on the prosecutors to make a decision. Currently, the prosecution is set to announce a decision Monday.

“If the prosecution elects not to pursue the death penalty, then it is Mr. Holmes’ position that this case could be resolved on April 1,” the lawyers said in the document.

By accepting the plea agreement, the prosecution could avoid years of drawn-out court battles that could be emotionally stressful for victims. The trial is currently set for Aug. 5 and is scheduled to last four weeks, but the defense said in the filing that the trial would actually last much longer because of the large number of charges.

“Holmes can’t offer any more than he is offering,” Dan Recht, a Denver defense attorney who has been following the case, told the Denver Post. “The choice for the prosecution could not be clearer.”


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