The American gunman who stormed a Batman movie premier and killed 12 audience members has escaped the death penalty but will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
A Colorado jury failed to find unanimity on execution for 27-year-old former graduate student James Holmes, obliging the judge to impose a sentence of life without parole.
Last month, the killer had been convicted on 12 counts of murder in the first degree and scores more charges including murder, attempted murder and explosives possession.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
But defence counsel argued he has a mental illness and urged jurors to show clemency, an appeal apparently heeded by at least one of the panel of nine women and three men.
District Judge Carlos Samour thanked the jury for their service and set August 24 to 26 as the dates for Holmes’ formal sentencing.
Holmes attacked the packed premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 theatre in Aurora on July 20, 2012, spraying bullets into the dark auditorium.
Clad in body armour and with peculiar dyed-orange hair, he fired hundreds of rounds before police halted a spree that had left 12 people dead, including a six-year-old child.