James Holmes offer to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty has been rejected by Colorado prosecutors because they say Holmes’ defense team has failed to give them enough information to actually evaluate the proposal. As a result, no plea agreement exists and one "is extremely unlikely based on the present information available to the prosecution," according to a scathing court document released on Thursday.
Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder after opening fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July. Twelve people were killed and 70 were injured.
Prosecutors say that anyone reading news stories about the offer would inevitably conclude "the defendant knows that he is guilty, the defense attorneys know that he is guilty, and that both of them know that he was not criminally insane."
Holmes’ defense attorneys were criticized by prosecutors for publicizing the offer. They say that it is a ploy meant to draw the public and the judge into what should be private plea negotiations. Prosecutors have not revealed what information the defense is withholding from them, according to The Huffington Post.
Karen Steinhauser, a professor at the University of Denver's law school, said prosecutors don’t know whether Holmes' attorneys could mount a strong mental health defense so they are less likely to agree to a plea deal. "One of the issues the prosecution needs to look at is, is there a likelihood that doctors, and then a jury, could find that James Holmes was insane at the time of the crime?" she said.
Pierce O'Farrill, who was shot three times by Holmes, said he would welcome an agreement that would put Holmes in jail for life. "I don't see his death bringing me peace," O'Farrill said. "To me, my prayer for him was that he would spend the rest of his life in prison and hopefully, in all those years he has left, he could find God and ask for forgiveness himself."