After less than three hours of deliberations, the jury in the James Holmes murder trial unanimously decided today that the evidence the defense presented in mitigation last week regarding his schizophrenia at the time he shot and killed 12 people and wounded 70 at the midnight showing of a new Batman film in Aurora, CO did not outweigh the evidence presented by the prosecution in aggravation about the nature of the crime.
The verdict shocked me because schizophrenia is a debilitating mental illness characterized by delusional thinking that compromises a person’s ability to perceive reality accurately and react to it in a rational matter. People do not choose to be schizophrenic. Patients suffering from schizophrenia have difficulty managing their lives, even if they take their anti-psychotic medicine as prescribed. Many end up homeless and untreated until they are arrested by police and taken to jail for minor property offenses like trespassing or shoplifting. Only a small percentage of schizophrenics commit violent crimes. As in this case, there is no reason to think they would have committed the crime if they were not mentally ill.
Court will resume tomorrow to hear victim-impact testimony. The prosecution plans to call 15 witnesses to testify regarding how their lives have been impacted by the shootings. Given the verdict today, I think the jury is going to sentence him to death, regardless what the witnesses say.
This is one of those days when I feel like I do not know this country anymore.