Death Penalty for James Holmes?

Avatar for cmkristy
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2005
Death Penalty for James Holmes?
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 11:34am

DENVER — James Holmes, the man accused of shooting 70 people, killing 12, during a midnight attack at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last summer, will likely learn Monday whether he’ll face execution if convicted.

Prosecutors from the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office plan to announce in a 9 a.m. MT hearing if they’ll seek the death penalty, should the case go to trial. Monday’s decision follows last week’s legal theatrics in which Holmes’ defense team said it would enter a guilty plea if the district attorney settled on a life-in-prison sentence.

“It is Mr. Holmes’ position that this case could be resolved on April 1,” his public defenders announced last Wednesday in court filings posted online by the Denver Post. “Mr. Holmes made an offer to the prosecution to resolve this case by pleading guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison, without any opportunity for parole.”

Not only did prosecutors decline the guilty offer—first made prior to Holmes’ March 12 arraignment—but they also lambasted the defense for making it public.

Death penalty decision expected in James Holmes case-

What do you think will happen? Do you think he can (or should) face the death penalty?

 photo snowsiggy.png

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 04-09-2013 - 11:09am

you are coming from an angle of someone with a dx

Well, not precisely. I am coming from the angle of observable behaviors consistent with a diagnosis. Only a trained professional can give the label of a diagnosis. Anyone can notice a change in behavior or have a gut feeling that something is very wrong.

When that does happen, for the most part, nothing can be done. I think our so-called "system" needs to honor the observations of loved ones. That is beginnining to happen in my area. Most all evidence-based practices recommend getting input from people who are in a position to observe and note the changes in behavior.  However, it is not yet common practice.

That is the first phase that needs changing: valuing the input from non-clinicians.

Usually, something eventually gives and a diagnosable person will get forced treatment, or 72 hour hold or something. At that point that do then have a diagnosis.

how do we reach that point without infringing on people's freedom ... that is all people, even those without a mental illness

Assisted Outpatient Treatment has nothing to do with the undiagnosed, because the requirement is a non-compliance with treatment in the past.

I am the first to admit that mass killings by psychotic people are random, bizarre anomalies and there is not way to prevent them 100%. But changes in our mental health system that depend less on the "personal responsibility" of people with anosognosia and more on outside observances are a firm step in the right direction.

Any clearer?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Fri, 04-12-2013 - 7:38am

Not really any clearer Nis because you continue to repeat yourself and things people already know. Really? Of course people are aware only a trained professional can give a dx. Maybe you are not clear on what I am asking.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment has nothing to do with the undiagnosed, because the requirement is a non-compliance with treatment in the past.

Who said that it did?? .

Either way some point, whether it's a change in behavior, or whatever, people need to get to professional to be dx ... you keep avoiding how this can be done without infringing on peoples personal freedom. No kidding, this system is based on personal responsibility ... how do we change ... "force" people into treatment without infringing on their own personal rights?

And again, you say anyone can notice a change in behavior, even if I buy that, you are not suggesting those closest to a person, force them into therapy every time they suspect something might be off due to a change in behavior?? I mean really, the reason people need a professional to dx is because most of the dx lies in a grey area of determining what is average and what is not .... so, no, I do not believe the average person can do this or even should do this.

Sorry, stating we should value input from non-clinicians is also nonproductive and history tells us this. I totally agree, it's very frustrating when a child turns 18 and the parent is no longer able to even make an appointment for their child, but again, lol, how do we force people into treatment without stepping on their rights and, even if we did .... how do you force people to contnue treatment?? ... is that clearer to you??

But changes in our mental health system that depend less on the "personal responsibility" of people with anosognosia and more on outside observances are a firm step in the right direction.

Just to be ultra clear. I completely disagree with you. As you stated, people in this condition pose very little harm to themselves or society so, what is your reasoning to force them into anything?? And two, as you stated, only a professional can understand the complex nature of such illnesses and therefore, that is why only a professional can dx.

Do you also believe people should be forced in other medical treatment as well?


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Fri, 04-12-2013 - 7:51am

Hey Nis, I just wanted to add, I only commented on your statement about forcing people with a " suspected" mental illness into therapy. And I admit, what came to my mind was various disorders and the rate of teen suicide. I believe most people will look back and see these red flags. But, as life is happening ... most don't. Most behaviors mimic what is age appropriate.

I also understand the complete frustration in the system. Even those that see the red flags in others, often cannot find the help the person needs due to privacy issues ... and really, it's that simple. People don't need a lecture of psychology to understand this.

But, people have rights, they really do. They even have the right to live with a mental illness. And, as I said, even once forced into treatment, maintaining that treatment is questionable in those they do not seek it or want it .... unless, of course, we go back to locking them up ... and why would we, if they pose such a little threat to themselves or society??



Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 10:57am

But changes in our mental health system that depend less on the "personal responsibility" of people with anosognosia and more on outside observances are a firm step in the right direction

This is absurd. I read recently that 1 out of 4 people suffer some kind of mental illness, That's a pretty large population would you not agree? Personal responsibility/self control/working the programs most certainly do contribute to living well..... And back to the title of this thread, Death penalty for James Holmes. The man crossed the line and commited a crime, justice and fate will prevail. It's the excusing away mental illness that solves nothing.



iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 6:14pm

This is absurd.

OK, then. Explain it to me. If a person has anosognosia and has no idea that they have a mental illness, how much practical sense does it make to hold them accountable for decisions/behaviors influenced by their mental illness?

Isn't that the situation we have created for ourselves? Wathcing and waiting. Allowing people who are incapable of knowing their is a lurking problem to experience their "freedom". Holding our collective breath, hoping for the best? Hoping that they decide to commit a misdeamor rather than a killing spree? Letting those close to them watch powerlessly? How is that anything other than absurd?

That's a pretty large population would you not agree?

IMO, there is a bigger difference between the seriously mentally ill and the mentally ill than there is between the mentally ill and the non-mentally ill. Yes, many people have mental illness, depression, anxiety, etc just like many people have diabetes. Just like diabetes where there is a difference in the treatment of type I and type II, there is a vast difference between having a panic attack and having a command hallucination with anosognosia.

I do not see it as justice to hold a person with anosognosia and psychosis as responsible for their actions as a person without them. I do not view "mental illness" as an "excuse". Viewing it as such leaves us in the predicament that we are in, ie, waiting for people to commit a heinous crime so that we can punish them for it. Wouldn't it make more sense to be a little pro-active? To stop pretending that people with mental illness are not impaired? To stop pretending that punishing them for lacking "personal responsibility" after the fact is beneficial to anyone?

Fate? Really? Do people chaulk up Sandy Hook and Aurora to fate? Inevitable? Wow.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 6:33pm

Not really any clearer.


How do we "force" people into treatment without infringing on their own personal rights?

Delicately. Carefully. Checks and balances. Not easy or taken lightly. The pendulum is way too far extended in favor of "freedom" over good sense.

The choice is not freedom  vs forced treatment, the choice is homeless, jailed, vulnerable or forced treatment. Neither option is good.

because most of the dx lies in a grey area of determining what is average and what is not

Yes. I agree for run of the mill mental illness, anxiety, depression, etc it is challenge to draw a line between normal and needs help. But with major mental illness it is far more dramatic. There is no question of normal or not normal, the questions are asked in alarm and disbelief 'what the heck is this" "what are we supposed to do?" "should we call the police" "are we the only people this has happened to?". That happens in a window before out and out outragous behaviors occur.

If we collectively knew the prevalence and signs of mental illness the way that we do about breast cancer or heart attacks, I believe it would have an impact, not just on mass killings, but on the qualify of life of people with major mental illness.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 6:44pm

As you stated, people in this condition pose very little harm to themselves or society so, what is your reasoning to force them into anything??

Reducing the risk of mass murder is not my primary motivation for assisted outpatient treament. The risk of such behavior is non-existent for the vast majority of people with mental illness. The risk is tiny for people with serious and persistent mental illness.

Its like a person with a rash. Anone can notice a rash and have concerns that  something is wrong, but only a medical professional can diagnose the cause - hives, psoriasis, yeast, etc. Anyone can note that behavior is seriously off, but only a professional can diagnose. Serious mental illness and anosognosia are very real, very serious and it doesn't take a professional or a rocket scientist to notice them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 7:01pm

Does this say anything that I haven't already?

Mentally ill offered new path for care

By Joan Garrett Monday, March 4, 2013

Tennessee is among six states that do not allow outpatient commitment for the mentally ill. This means that parents with seriously sick adult children who won't take their medication have had little option but to watch their sons or daughters deteriorate.

But in 2012, after a decade of legislative lobbying, a pilot program was created in Knoxville to test assisted outpatient treatment.

The program isn't off the ground yet, but advocates hope to get it going this year. The goal is to make it a model that can be mimicked across the state, including in Chattanooga, where there is growing concern about the region's capacity to care for its mentally ill.

For some, the program has come too late. Steve Daugherty's 25-year-old daughter was killed in March 2008 by an untreated schizophrenic man who beat her to death with a brick in downtown Knoxville. Now Daugherty is one of the most vocal Chattanooga advocates for mandatory outpatient treatment.

At trial, he said, the man's parents testified how they had tried to get their son to stay on his medicine, how they had tried to get him help, but always faced resistance. No system was in place to support them.

"Without mandatory outpatient treatment we are going to have more people hurt, more people murdered," Daugherty said. "If we had had mandatory outpatient treatment, my daughter would be alive today. I am afraid that there are parents all over the state who could make that statement."

Outpatient commitment is a civil process. Typically, parents or providers petition the court for a treatment plan that would force a person to take his or her medications and follow a treatment plan.

The parent gets a lawyer and so does the mentally ill person. Then the judge decides whether the mentally ill person meets the criteria for mandatory outpatient care. If so, a case worker is assigned to monitor the person as needed.

Do no harm

Involuntary commitment to a state hospital usually requires that a person have potential to harm himself or others to be accepted into care. The bar is much lower for outpatient commitment: persistent trouble with medication and growing instability.

In Georgia, for example, mandatory outpatient treatment is pursued when a person is at risk of inpatient commitment and is "unable to voluntarily seek or comply with outpatient treatment."

"Assisted outpatient treatment doesn't wait for a person to commit a crime," said Brian Stettin, policy director for the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit organization that helped pass the law for a pilot program in Tennessee.

Because of state funding cuts for mental health services, most states are suffering from a glut of mentally ill inmates in jails and prisons and shrinking hospital systems. The Hamilton County Jail spends more than $6,000 a month on mentally ill inmates, who comprise 45 percent of its population, Sheriff Jim Hammond said.

At Moccasin Bend, the region's state mental hospital, the cost is $562 per bed per day, said Michael Rabkin, a spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Mental health court

A mental health court is being discussed as one solution, but it would address only the mentally ill charged with a crime. Some say intervention at that point is too late. While the cost of outpatient commitment varies, it is much lower than the cost of incarceration and hospitalization, Stettin said.

In New York, where outpatient commitment is used in every jurisdiction, the results have garnered attention: 77 percent fewer people hospitalized, 74 percent fewer homeless and 83 percent fewer arrested, according to Treatment Advocacy Center data.

In Florida, hospital stays were reduced from 64 days to 37 days per patient over an 18-month period for those participating in outpatient commitment. Hospital savings were averaged as $4,463 per person. Participants' jail time fell 72 percent to an average of 4.5 days, according to a study published in Psychiatric Services, the journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

"It has been proved in other states to be a valuable tool," said Tennessee state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, who sponsored the pilot bill last year.

"You don't need to be sending everyone with mental illness to jail," Massey said. "If we can get someone the treatment rather than going to jail, in the long run it's a lot less expensive."

Advocates say the reason involuntary commitment works is that it forces people who have no idea they are sick to face treatment. Anosognosia, a lack of insight, affects 50 percent of the seriously mentally ill, said Karen Easter, who pushed for years for the pilot program in Knoxville.

Easter's son is bipolar and stopped taking his medicine when he was 18 years old. When his condition worsened, he began getting arrested, and Easter had no way to intervene.

"There are [opponents to outpatient commitment] who say that it is taking away a person's civil liberties," she said. "If you don't have the capacity to make rational decisions, that's a violation of their civil liberties."

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 9:31pm

Absurd was harsh, Please accept my apologies. About this crime, given the events that led up the horrific night in Aurora how do you know Holmes was out of his mind? He had to have some right sense of mind in buying a movie ticket beforehand, trapping his apartment and buying amunition and head to toe gear beforehand. He had a plan and I don't think that should be excused or dismissed. Mental illness is hard to prove in a court of law but I'll tell you what, my bet is Adam Lanza would have been shown more leniency had he lived than I believe Holmes will get. Based on what I've read and heard about that crime, that boy snapped and when the disease of mental illness leads to harm I do not think any of it is planned like what Holmes did. 



iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 9:36pm

that boy snapped

I think the expression "snapped" is inappropriate. If someone truly were to suddenly become enraged and act out violently, I might call that "snapped" and I would not grant any leniency. I wouldn't trivialize mental illness by saying "snapped".

I do not think any of it is pre-planned.

The ability to plan matters legally and is often linked to the legal term "insane", but it has no bearing on whether or not a person is psychotic, delusional, experiencing hallucinations or otherwise seriously mentally ill.

how do you know Holmes was out of his mind

I have no knowledge of the specifics of Aurora other than what has been in the news. Everything that I have read is consistent and points toward the likelihood of a psychotic break - his age, the bizarreness of the crime, the scant reports from the college psychiatrist. II am making an educated guess. I have no real way to know what the facts are, but then, those posters claiming he is "evil" "hang him" do not seem to care whether or notthe shooter was mentally ill. It is almost as if they deny the existence of mental illness and think it is just an "excuse".

Why do you think Lanza is deserving and/or might have been given leniency compared to Holmes? Is it strictly the "planning" assumptions? Do you think having a mental illness prevents a person from planning?