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AMERICAS > James Holmes hit with 142 charges in US

CENTENNIAL, Colorado - Agence France-Presse

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Prosecutors hit grad school dropout James Holmes with 142 charges July 30 after a gunman shot dead 12 people and wounded scores more in one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history.

Prosecutors have said it will be several weeks before a decision is made on whether or not to seek the death penalty for Holmes. Only one person has been executed in Colorado since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

But the 40-page charge sheet underlined their efforts to ensure he is severely punished. Holmes faces two counts of first degree murder for each of the 12 people killed, one each for their deliberate killing and one more for killing through “depraved indifference” to the lives of his victims. He also faces 116 attempted murder charges for wounding 58 more people in the theater with indiscriminate firing, one count of possession of an explosive device and one sentence enhancement count for a “crime of violence.” There has been speculation that stress over failing an important oral exam may have been the trigger that caused Holmes, a promising neuroscience student who had won a prestigious government grant, to become unhinged.

Prosecutors have been battling defense lawyers over a package Holmes sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado portending the midnight massacre at a cinema in Aurora, outside Denver.

Holmes’s lawyers are accusing prosecutors of leaking to the media the existence of the package - reportedly containing macabre plans, including drawings of a stick-figure gunman mowing down victims.

July/31/2012

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