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?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 04-15-2013 - 1:53pm

A mental health court? I can already petition the court to commit someone.

I don't think that is what mental health court is for.

I don't need a lecture in psychology. But, you seem to want to give them.

I could go back and re-read my posts, but I don't remember lecturing about psychology. I recall posting only things that an average person should be aware of in order to comment on  Aurora with some additional detail to clarify my points.

I explained where I agree and disagree with you and tried to be clearer,

I am aware that you keep asking for "real" solutions. If I have not said it already, I'll say it now. Mental illness is a very complex, with incomprehensible nuances. There are not any simple, clear solutions. That said, the Treatment Advocacy Center has a lot of reasonable ideas. Politicians OTOH have produced only stigma building bunk.

As far as dx vs pre-dx, I fail to see the point you are trying to make. I did try to make a guess about what you meant in at least one post.

but how many parents will ever do this?

I would hope that many parents would do it. It is better than sitting around powerlessly waiting for "enough" deterioration.

under what conditions does anyone have the right to judge some else's mental state .. plus, force them to prove they are sane?

I would hope that if I were to become delusional or suicidal and the people around me noticed, but I didn't notice, that they would take action to help me get help. Really, I see it as very pragmatic and not philosophical. We as a community are not nearly as conflicted about helping people with Alzheimers and demensia as we are about mental illness. That makes no sense to me.

It seems that you think mental illness deserves some sort of special hands-off treatment compared to other disorders. I am curious about that, but I can not figure out how they differ IYO. BTB, sane is a legal term, relating to guilt, it doesn't really have a role in assessing non-criminal mental health.

but generally, mental illness is more subtle then that.

True, but general mental illness is not related to Aurora or Sandy Hook. General mental illness would not be up for consideration for Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Only the blatant talking to the fence type behaviors would. Perhaps that is the disconnect? You've been talking about "general mental illness" and I've been talking about serious mental illness aka the talking to the fence type. Maybe not.

Sure, when we isolate a solution to a specific event, the answers always seem munch clearer, right?

That of course is true, but irrelevant to anything that I am trying to say. Millions of people experience symptoms of serious mental illnes. Millions of families fight an uphill battle to get any decent treatment. If a tiny sliver of those people go on to commit a sensational crime, and those stories are highlighted that does not change the frustrations of millions.

There are many behaviors including talking to a fence that an average person would recognize as "off". (I previously likened it to a rash.) I would like serious changes in behavior to be addressed even if the person experiencing them does not acknowledge them.  Depending on the behaviors, the resources available, or the protections needed, various types of "treatment" should be "pushed". That might be a nudge for harmless, nuissance behaviors {talking to a fence) or it might be some coercion for a more serious behavior (expressing concern that gramma is plotting your death).

Again, I do not think I am saying anything radical or controversial on this point. Quite practical really. Yet you strongly disagree with me. I am befuddled.

I acknowledge that I have said some very off-beat, controversial things in this thread, but fairly consistently you have agreed with me on those points.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Mon, 04-15-2013 - 7:51am

Nis, I appreciate your time, but again, I understand how things work, I don't need a lecture in psychology. But, you seem to want to give them. I just don't know what else to tell you. I explained where I agree and disagree with you and tried to be clearer, but you continue to come back with more of the same. I appreciate your effort and time. But, really, lol .. I already said this issue of privacy can be very frustrating for a parent .. do we really need to keep talking about it? I already agreed there's problems with the system, but really, I do not see, or here from you, any real solution ...

oh, and yes, here again, I get it ... lol ... I said this as well, you are discussing people with existing dx ... but dx starts before that. ack ... I said this before and you continue to circle back to the same thing.

ok .. so now, a parent gets a lawyer, the child gets a lawyer .... ok, maybe a solution on paper, but how many parents will ever do this? I don't know many and under what conditions does anyone have the right to judge some else's mental state .. plus, force them to prove they are sane? Sure, there are clear cut examples, like the man we saw talking to the fence every morning .... carrying on a full conversations with it, but generally, mental illness is more subtle then that.

A mental health court? I can already petition the court to commit someone.

Sure, when we isolate a solution to a specific event, the answers always seem munch clearer, right? But, in general, the problem isn't that others don't see a potential problem. It really lies in the area of ... will someone act on suspicion? Will a parent call the police on a child or get a lawyer? Again, through history, it doesn't appear so.

And once again, set up courts and whatnot, but one cannot force another to maintain treatment, unless, of course, you plan to lock these people up .. .and again, history has shown us, this does not work.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sun, 04-14-2013 - 9:23pm

In this tragedy, though, I’m discerning a palpable shift in how America is dealing with news of mental illness and suicide.

Maybe Rick Warren can join other charismatic people and make a difference in attitudes toward mental illness. The loss of his son is such a tragedy....

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 10:52pm

Yea, I've read those stats about insanity defenses too and I'd love to hear the nitty gritty of how some get the pass but others don't.  I do think the Lanza and Holmes crimes are different and it's just a hunch that a plea for insanity might have made more sense in the Lanza case.......  An after thought but I subscribe to Rick Warren on facebook, This Rev lost his son to suicide last week and he's been writing about it ever since, thanking his followers for condolences etc. etc.  Today he wrote something that really caught my eye, Treating broken minds should be like treating broken bones, something like that.  He's such a great motivator even through such a terrible loss. 



iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 10:10pm

Punishing people for acting in ways over which they have no control, does not have a place in civilized society.  The Model Penal Code states that our society does not punish people for acts that are not voluntary.  The actor holds no responsibility for an action if it was not voluntary and our society does not punish people for things in which they are not responsible.

It is hard for me to imagine that anyone would disagree with the above statement.

Many people think the Insanity Defense is a get out of jail free card, but it doesn't tend to work out well for the defender whether mentall illy or not:

"Regardless of the precise legal standard, the insanity defense is rarely raised and even more rarely successful. It is used in only about 1% of cases in the U.S., and is successful less than 25% of the time."

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?

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 - 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."

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 - 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.