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Batman cinema gunman 'feels remorse but can't express it'

Published 26/08/2015

James Holmes killed 12 people in the cinema shooting
James Holmes killed 12 people in the cinema shooting

The mother of Colorado cinema gunman James Holmes has told a judge during his sentencing hearing that her son feels remorse but his mental illness and medications made it hard for him to express it.

Arlene Holmes took the stand after more than 100 victims and survivors of the 2012 attack testified about the searing physical and emotional scars the shooting has left.

"We cannot feel the depths of your pain. We can only listen. ... And we pray for you," she said at the hearing in Centennial, Colorado. "We are very sorry this tragedy happened and sorry everyone has suffered so much."

Standing at a lectern with her husband, Robert, by her side, she told Judge Carlos A Samour Jr that she has been researching mental illness and ways to prevent mass violence.

"I am not proud I didn't know more about mental illness. We should have known our family history better and realised that the signs of mental illness can appear at a very early age," said Mrs Holmes, who previously testified that she didn't know her son suffered schizophrenia until after he killed 12 people and injured scores more in the attack.

The judge will today formally sentence Holmes to life in prison without parole and up to 3,318 additional years on attempted murder convictions.

Jurors rejected Holmes' insanity plea, convicting him of murdering 12 people and trying to kill 70 others when he opened fire on a packed cinema in suburban Denver on July 20, 2012.

Prosecutors have said the jury was divided on the sentence, with 11 favouring death and one favouring life without parole. Under Colorado law, jurors must be unanimous to impose the death penalty, so Holmes automatically got life.

On Tuesday, defence attorney Daniel King told the judge that Holmes would not be appealing his conviction, sparing victims the possibility of another trial.

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