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Jurors Sentence Colorado Movie Theater Shooter James Holmes To Life In Prison

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James Holmes was convicted last month of murdering 12 people and trying to murder 70 others inside a movie theater in suburban Denver three years ago. James Holmes was convicted last month of murdering 12 people and trying to murder 70 others inside a movie theater in suburban Denver three years ago.
CENTENNIAL, Colorado -

After a 15 week trial and in the third and final phase of sentencing, a jury of nine women and three men sentenced Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to life in prison without parole, rejecting the death penalty.

Holmes was convicted last month of murdering 12 people and trying to murder 70 others inside a movie theater in suburban Denver three years ago. Jurors began deliberating Thursday afternoon in the third and final phase of sentencing. The decision was delivered Friday evening.

Jurors reached their decision after they saw 2,695 pieces of evidence and heard from 306 witnesses over a three month long trial period. Relatives of those killed in the massacre were the last to take the stand, offering heartbreaking stories of loss.

In the hours before the sentencing jurors had asked to review a graphic crime scene video before deciding whether to give Holmes the death penalty.

In closing arguments, District Attorney George Brauchler played a recording of a 911 call with gunshots and screams in the background as the victims' pictures disappeared one by one from a courtroom TV screen.

"For James Eagan Holmes, justice is death," he said. "Death."

Defense attorney Tamara Brady said that the massacre was heartbreaking but that Holmes' schizophrenia was the sole cause.

"The death of a seriously mentally ill man is not justice, no matter how tragic the case is," she said. "Please, no more death."

James Holmes' parents both had taken the standto try to persuade the jury to save his life. Holmes' sister also had taken the stand.

Holmes' victims didn't agree on what sentence was appropriate for the former neuroscience graduate student. Nor was there a consensus about whether it would ease their pain and loss.

Robert Sullivan had previously said that death would be the only just punishment for the man who killed his 6-year-old granddaughter, Veronica.

But Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, 24, died in the attack, had previously said she worried about the decades of appeals that typically come with a death sentence.

"If I had my way, he would go to prison the rest of his life and not have to go through the appeals process where we have to look at his face and hear his name again," Phillips said. "We want him behind us."

In Colorado, the death penalty is conducted by lethal injection. The last time it was used was in 1994 for Gary Davis. There are three other people currently on death row, and according to the Colorado Department of Corrections, the most recent was Robert Ray. He was sentenced to death in 2009.

Since the death penalty was re-instated in 1975, Colorado has only executed Davis.

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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