James Holmes, who killed 10 moviegoers in the US state of Colorado in 2012, was spared the death penalty on Friday.
The jury was not unanimous on all counts of murder in their verdict. This automatically removes the possibility for a sentence of capital punishment. Holmes will be therefore serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Holmes’s defence team had pleaded insanity, arguing that the now 27-year-old PhD student of neuroscience suffered from schizophrenia.
Prosecutors pressed for capital punishment with the argument that Holmes and carefully premeditated the murders.
One juror told CNN that two members of the twelve-head jury were hesitant to give the death penalty and that the disagreement could not be resolved.
Many family members and survivors in the courtroom were visibly upset when the verdict was announced. Holmes has not issued any statement of apology or regret.
The mass shooting took place during the midnight showing of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in Aurora, Colorado. Holmes had entered the cinema with a shotgun, assault rifle and pistol.
The jury found him guilty of 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and one explosives charge.
The killings are also referred to as the ‘Batman massacre’, in reference to the film being watched by the victims at the time.