Friday, April 24, 2015

Aurora theater shooting trial begins Monday

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Nearly three years after a crazed gunman killed 12 people and wounded 70 others during the premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises, his trial will begin Monday in Centennial, Colo.
If prosecutors win a death sentence for James Holmes the case will likely linger in the justice system for several more years or longer.
The only retribution so far since the movie was a federal judge’s decision _ by the same judge who presided in the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh _ to rule a family must pay legal fees of $280,000 for suing the companies who sold the deranged killer
the bullets he used. Their lawsuit was dismissed.
Judge Richard Matsch said that the sale of the bullets by online retailers
Lucky Gunner and Sportman’s Guide did not constitute negligence.
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter Jessica, was killed in the July 20, 2012 massacre, filed suit.
There is some irony in the Matsch decision since the McVeigh trial led to McVeigh’s execution.
The only reason the trial is going ahead Monday is because the Arapahoe County prosecutor refused to accept a guilty plea offered by Holmes’ lawyers, who offered a guilty plea in return for a life sentence. They argue their client is insane.
District Attorney George Brauchler wants him executed.
Aurora Sentinel Editor Dave Perry put it this way: "The trial is supposed to settle whether Holmes was so mentally ill that he was unable to know how vile and despicable his actions were. Or, the jury will decide whether Holmes viciously pulled off the heinous crime because, well, we don’t know yet why prosecutors think Holmes was anything but whack-job crazy. That will be the surprise ending of the show."
The old McNaughton rule is from English law, and the idea that being able to tell the difference between right and wrong determines sanity has been updated. Not being able to stop yourself can be used as a reason.
The trial will be shown live on TV and streamed on Web sites, though with only one fixed camera it will not be exciting. There will be some graphic photos.
Joanne Ostrow of the Denver Post reported there will be no zooming in and at times the view of the killer may be obstructed.
One interesting aspect likely to come up is why police did not act when a University of Colorado psychiatrist warned them that Holmes was dangerous.
The same sequence of events has preceeded most if not all of the massacres, including Columbine.
They raise questions about why law officers, who are seen as too often hasty in killing citizens, especially blacks, failed to act to prevent mass shootings.

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