Trial judge defends LWOP sentence for James Holmes

NBC News is reporting that Judge Samour, the judge who presided over the James Holmes murder trial (AKA: the Aurora theater shootings) defended the outcome (life without parole) against criticism by the mother of one of the shooting victims. She said the result showed more concern for Holmes than his victims. He said,

“You can’t claim there was no justice because it wasn’t the outcome you expected,” Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said in an unusual speech from the bench during Holmes’ formal sentencing hearing for the 2012 attack.

Samour said the jury was fair and impartial and that he tried his utmost to be the same.

“And that’s how you know it was justice,” he said.

Holmes killed twelve and wounded 70 people. He was schizophrenic and delusional when he committed the crimes. Experts testified that he would not have committed the crimes if he were not mentally ill.

I agree with Judge Samour.

Prior to trial, the defense offered to plead guilty to a life-without-parole sentence, but the prosecutor rejected the offer. I have have criticized that decision harshly as a catastrophic waste of time and money because juries are reluctant to sentence the mentally ill to death. The result was predictable. I feel bad for the victims and their families, but this trial and its attendant emotional roller coaster did not need to happen.



12 Responses to Trial judge defends LWOP sentence for James Holmes

  1. Malisha says:

    There is a strange “radio silence” going on around Dylann Storm Roof who gunned down nine worshippers in the AME Church of Charleston. Energy was diverted to the confederate flag, to Concerned Citizens, and to “forgiveness” and a trial date was set more than a year away (not “speedy and public” according to the Fifth Amendment, eh?) and then the story was tucked away to let people forget. A little flap occurred when it was mentioned that there would be no plea entered until the defense figured out if the prosecution is asking for the death penalty. And then — quiet. No press interest in “how is Dylann Storm Roof communicating with his constituency while in jail awaiting trial?” No “Dylann Storm Roof visited by chaplain.” No — mention — and I had been thinking that the racist judge who held the bond hearing was gearing things up (before being forced off the case when it was broadcast that he used the “n-word” in open court) for a real “loss of interest” so the guy could quietly get — whatever. Quietly get — we ought to be keeping an eye on this. I know that Frances Roble (was that her name?) is of course “on the case.” She was one of the architects of the “rewarding of Fogen.” Are there any real journalists out there or have they all been taken care of by Fatwahs placed by the Koch boys?

    • For several reasons, I don’t see anything unusual about the silence in the Dylann Roof case.

      First, David Bruck, who was cocounsel with Judy Clarke in the Tsarnaev case, was appointed to represent Roof. David is from South Carolina, so it’s not surprising that he was appointed. BTW, David and Judy represented Susan Smith in her death penalty trial in South Carolina. He would have instructed Roof to STFU.

      Second, no death penalty lawyer would insist on a speedy trial. Delay is a defendant’s best friend in an egregious capital case. Waiving the right to a speedy trial is SOP.

      Third, don’t assume nothing is happening behind the scene. If I were David, I would be working the victim side of the case to see if I could get the families of the victims to join in asking the prosecution to accept an LWOP outcome. Delaying the entry of a plea, which would have to be not guilty unless the prosecution had agreed not to seek death, is a good idea, if for no other reason than to avoid having people incorrectly assume that he wants to go to trial if he were to plead not guilty.

      Fourth, he needs sufficient time to get a comprehensive mental health evaluation of Roof and complete a thorough mitigation investigation of Roof and his family background. This usually takes at least a year to complete.

      Finally, he needs a break from the Tsarnaev federal railroad debacle, a chance to catch his breath, and adequate time to establish a relationship of trust with Roof.

      • FYI: The AP is reporting that one of the Tsarnaev jurors has stated that he probably would have voted for LWOP if he had known that Martin Richard’s family wanted an LWOP sentence.

        • gblock says:

          I didn’t know that they did, I don’t think it’s been publicized. How do the families of other victims (both dead and alive but maimed) feel about it?

        • This admission isn’t likely to change the outcome because victims are limited to testifying about the impact of the crime on them. They are not permitted to recommend a particular sentence. We know the Richard family wanted LWOP because they made that request in the Boston Globe. Jurors were prohibited from reading about the case, so this juror didn’t read the article.

  2. I must admit I have no understanding about the need for a trial in this case.

  3. racerrodig says:

    If we start executing those with a mental defect of any type, we become just like Hitler………or Stalin, and that’s not a good group to be compared to.

    The utter lack of help for those with mental or psychological issues is appalling, but that’s for another day.

  4. GB says:

    The money would have been better spent investigating claims of wrongful conviction – there are many. Or on mental health.

  5. Though I’m always opposed to the death penalty in any case, I think the trial, though wasteful, probably did bring closure to many other victims’ families.

    Too bad that some think they’ll feel better only if the perp dies. Many people have come forward in similar situations and say that even the death of the perp doesn’t bring solace.

    It is what it is – a tragedy for all concerned, victim and perpertrator alike.

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