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Colorado shooting

What Is ‘Extreme Indifference’ Murder?

A jury yesterday found James Holmes guilty on all murder counts in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. Holmes killed 12 people in the shooting, and was charged with two murder counts for each: murder in the first degree after deliberation, and murder in the first degree with extreme indifference. But what is extreme indifference murder, and how does it differ from a standard first degree murder charge? Colorado Law and the Theater Shooting Colorado's homicide statutes define extreme indifference murder as knowingly causing the death of another "under circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life generally," while the defendant was "engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to a person or persons other than himself." The charge is reserved for severe crimes and refers as much to the defendant's intent as to the result. Holmes opened fire on 400 moviegoers, firing 76 shots into the crowded theater and hitting a total of 70 people. Once the jury decided that Holmes wasn't insane at the time of the shooting, it is a short step to decide he acted with an extreme indifference to human life. Extreme Indifference and Depraved Heart Laws Other states have extreme indifference or depraved heart murder laws, and in some states acting with extreme indifference can be an aggravating factor in assault or manslaughter charges. In fact, Baltimore Police Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr. was charged with second degree depraved heart murder in the homicide of Freddie Gray. Goodson was driving the van when Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury. Often, it is easier for prosecutors to prove extreme indifference, because they don't need to demonstrate a specific intent to kill a particular person, only conduct that creates a risk of death to any other person or persons. The idea behind the laws is to deter excessively dangerous behavior and provide for additional punishment for wanton crimes. Related Resources: James Holmes Faces 142 Charges in CO Theater Shooting (FindLaw Blotter) What Is Intent to Kill? How Do You Prove It? (FindLaw Blotter) First Degree Murder Overview (FindLaw) Colorado First-Degree Murder (FindLaw)
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James Holmes Guilty in Colorado Movie Theater Shooting

A jury has found James Holmes guilty in killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. Holmes opened fire on a crowd during a showing of The Dark Knight in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012. The jury, selected from 9,000 possible candidates and short four members who had previously been dismissed, came to the verdict after just over a day of deliberation. The jury also found Holmes guilty of attempted murder and assorted weapons charges. Jury Found the Insanity Defense Unconvincing Holmes had argued that he was insane at the time of the shooting, and it was up to the state to prove he knew the nature of the crime and could distinguish between right and wrong at the time the crime was committed. By finding Holmes guilty on all first degree murder and murder with extreme indifference charges, the jury clearly found his insanity defense unconvincing. Holmes' psychiatrist also came under fire after the shooting, and was criticized for not adequately warning law enforcement regarding Holmes' violent inclinations. Will James Holmes Face the Death Penalty? While capital punishment is available in Colorado, the state has only executed one person in the last 37 years. In this case, however, prosecutors sought the death penalty and now that Holmes has been found guilty, the court will move on to the penalty phase of his trial. During the penalty phase, attorneys from both sides will present evidence as to the proper punishment. Like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before him, Holmes will be arguing against the death penalty and will likely put his mental state at issue again. If he is not given the death penalty, he will likely be sentenced to life in prison. There are currently three people on death row in Colorado, including Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of murdering four people at a Chuck E. Cheese in 1994. Related Resources: James Holmes Found Guilty of Murder in Aurora Theater Shooting Trial (ABC News) 'Dark Knight' Shooting in CO: 12 Dead, 50 Hurt (FindLaw Blotter) For James Holmes, Death Penalty is Far from a Certainty (FindLaw Blotter) Death Row Appeals: Rights and Limitations (FindLaw Blotter)
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